Greek Ways of Speaking (Aggressively): The Case of υπολαβων εφη [*]

Leslie Kurke, University of California, Berkeley

When the ancient Greeks first start writing mimetic prose narrative, where do they get the narrative resources for that? In particular, I’m interested in the verbal and stylistic resources for depicting rapid-fire dialogue and complex, unstructured speech situations involving multiple speakers. [1] Classical scholars have been quick to look to poetic sources—for example, dialogue in epic, or the stichomythia of tragedy and comedy—as precursors for narrative prose representations of speech situations. Other scholars, thinking about the social frame of performance rather than internal formal features of different poetic genres, have pointed to the traditions of sympotic or public performances of poetry—for example, the dueling distiches of sympotic elegy, or the regular turn-taking of the rhapsodes’ festival performances of Homer. [2] But this is essentially to look where the light is good—and also to ignore the crucial diacritic of prose, and significant differences of genre and decorum. In contrast to these approaches, I want to make use of the extensive collections of Aesop’s fables (as they exist in over a hundred manuscripts, and as edited by Émile Chambry, August Hausrath, and B. E. Perry). These collections (although written down very late) appear to be highly formulaic and formally conservative (as we shall see). And as such, I would contend, fables give us an extremely revealing—and more or less untapped—resource or reservoir of popular narrative techniques and formulae. These have never (to my knowledge) been brought to bear on formal features and formulae of early Greek mimetic narrative prose. [3] What I propose to do here is one case study—of ὑπολαμβάνω/ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη as a colloquial or subliterary formula in aggressive, competitive speech situations—considering how this formula comes to be taken up from fable and other popular, oral narrative by mimetic prose; and how, within the Greek mimetic prose tradition, its meaning develops and changes. This will serve as a way of approaching the topic of abuse from a different angle, focusing on its settings, styles, and specific dictional cues, rather than restricting ourselves to the explicit language of abuse. [4]
Let us consider the particular semantics and register of ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking in Classical Greek prose. Such a survey seems necessary because there is a great deal of confusion as to the signification of ὑπολαμβάνω or ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη, and yet, no thorough and systematic study of these terms seems ever to have been done. When we first learn Greek, we are taught to translate ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε as “took it up and said,” “responded,” or “interrupted”—as if these meanings were interchangeable, but this is at best misleading. In addition, there has (to my knowledge) been no attempt to differentiate what is distinctive about this phrase as a signifier of response in relation to other “answering” words like ἀμείβομαι, ὑποκρίνομαι, and ἀποκρίνομαι. That is to say, why does this relatively rare answering formula occur just where it does in our texts and not elsewhere?
Forms of ὑπολαμβάνω appear already in Homer in the meaning “take up, seize or come suddenly upon” (LSJ s.v. ὑπολαμβάνω 2., citing Iliad 3.34, Odyssey 18.88), but I am interested here in two more abstract extensions of the meaning of the verb that are almost entirely confined to Greek prose of the classical period and later. In a little more than half of all its occurrences in classical Greek prose, ὑπολαμβάνω means “conceive, assume, understand”—in this sense, etymologically exactly equivalent to Latin suscipio as a verb of intellection. [5] Slightly less common and entirely limited to prose in the classical period is the use of ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking—either as a main verb or as a participle together with a common verb of speaking in such fixed phrases as ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη or ὑπολαβὼν εἶπε. By my count, ὑπολαμβάνω in this meaning occurs just sixty-one times in all of classical Greek prose. [6]
How have scholars traditionally understood ὑπολαμβάνω and ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη in speech situations?
(1) There is an old, but still common interpretation, that ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε means “interrupt.” In spite of LSJ’s cautious—and correct—limiting of this meaning to only two occurrences, translators of Thucydides and Plato still regularly resort to this translation in a large number of cases. [7] But in these occurrences, I would contend, the phrase never means “interrupt” without some additional specification to that effect.
(2) The only scholars I have found who discuss the formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε at all are Gregory Nagy and Derek Collins. In the context of interpreting the report in the pseudo-Platonic Hipparchus that it was Hipparchus, son of Pisistratus, who “forced the rhapsodes at the Panathenaia to go through the utterances [of Homer] in sequence, by relay, just as they do even nowadays” (καὶ ἠνάγκασε τοὺς ῥαψῳδοὺς Παναθηναίοις ἐξ ὑπολήψεως ἐφεξῆς αὐτὰ διιέναι, ὥσπερ νῦν ἔτι οἵδε ποιοῦσιν, Hipparchus 228b8–c1), Nagy connects the rare noun ὑπόληψις, which he understands as meaning “in relay,” with the verb ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking: “In dramatized dialogue, the corresponding verb of hupolēpsis, hupolambanō, marks the response of one speaker to a previous speaker: ephē hupolabōn ‘he said in response’.” [8] Nagy goes on to develop the argument that ἐξ ὑπολήψεως, “in relay,” signifies both continuity in rhapsodic performance and competition, as each rhapsode in the sequence tries to one-up or outdo the previous performer to win the contest. [9] In addition, Nagy argues that Plato is very interested in the performance traditions of the Homeric rhapsodes in general, and that in several dialogues (Ion, Timaeus, Critias), he takes over for his own represented conversations technical terminology drawn from rhapsodic performance. [10] Derek Collins, in turn, inspired by Nagy’s broader argument about Plato’s appropriation of the forms and technical terminology of rhapsodic performance, extends Nagy’s framework to other dialogues and specifically to the speech formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη:
Rather, what draws our attention is that for Plato, dialectic and dialogue share similarities with comedic stichomythia as well as with other performance techniques, like those of rhapsodes. The similarities with rhapsodic performance are noticeable in Plato’s choice of verbs in the Euthydemus to describe how one speaker takes over from another. We find, for example, the frequent use of ὑπολαμβάνω ‘take up/reply’ and ἐκδέχομαι ‘receive,’ forms that unmistakably reference rhapsodic exchange. [11]
Nagy and Collins are right to associate ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking with contexts of competitive verbal exchange. For, as we shall see, ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη most commonly signifies the final trumping or capping response of one speaker to another in the context of the aggressive verbal dueling of two partners in dialogue. [12] But I would part company with Collins in his restriction of this formula to the context of rhapsodic performance and competition at festivals. Instead, I shall argue, ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη seems to be in origin a lively, colloquial, and perhaps subliterary expression linked to low or popular prose storytelling. For, strikingly, this quotative formula occurs over thirty times in just this meaning in the late collections of Aesop’s fables, so that one fable scholar has even identified ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη and its later lexical replacement ὑποτυχὼν ἔφη as “fable formulae.” [13]
In addition, if we consider the occurrences of ὑπολαμβάνω in speech formulae in Greek prose in chronological order, we can chart a clear development from Herodotus’ usage (which seems closest to the semantics of the “fable formula”) to that of Thucydides and finally to Xenophon and Plato, who seem to be adapting this colloquial quotative formula to the needs of representing complex multi-participant speech situations in mimetic prose (which of course appeared as a new discursive form only in the fourth century BCE). Plato in particular seems to have developed a specific new semantics for the formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη, retrofitted (as it were) to the needs of philosophical dialogue among several interlocutors and to the effective literary mimesis thereof. [14]
In order to substantiate these claims, I will in Sections I and II consider selectively usages of ὑπολαμβάνω in speech formulae in Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Plato, juxtaposing them to examples of the “fable formula” in context and offering brief cross-references to occurrences in other classical Greek prose authors. After this survey, in Section III I will make some suggestions for how we might conceive the etymology of ὑπολαμβάνω and ὑποτυγχάνω in such speech formulae, and then in Section IV conclude with a more extended look at Plato’s Euthydemus, a dialogue that provides us with a remarkable panoply of diction and imagery to characterize certain aggressive Greek “ways of speaking.”

I. Fifth-Century Occurrences and Fable Usage

As I have noted, Herodotus uses the formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε seven times in all (Herodotus 1.11.5, 1.27.4, 6.129.4, 6.139.4, 7.101.3, 7.147.3, 9.94.3), in contrast to seventy uses of the (Homerically familiar) ἀμείβομαι and thirty-four of ὑποκρίνομαι and (perhaps) ἀποκρίνομαι. [15] But what distinguishes these different verbs for answering or responding? Why does one appear rather than another in a particular context (especially in the case of the relatively rare expression ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/ εἶπε)? I have argued elsewhere for an Aesopic or fabular resonance for three of these passages based on the co-occurrence of other marked features associated with fable and/or with scenes of Aesopic advising—1.27.4, 6.129.4, and 7.101.3. [16] I will now review the other four Herodotean passages as a group.
(1) 1.11.5: In the interview of Gyges and the wife of Candaules, the queen has given Gyges the choice—“either kill Candaules and have me and the kingship of the Lydians, or you must die yourself immediately” (1.11.2). Gyges stalls and begs her not to impose such a choice on him, but when it becomes clear that she will not relent, he chooses survival, but adds a surly question:
ἐπειρώτα δὴ λέγων τάδε· ἐπεί με ἀναγκάζεις δεσπότεα τὸν ἐμὸν κτείνειν οὐκ ἐθέλοντα, φέρε ἀκούσω, τέῳ καὶ τρόπῳ ἐπιχειρήσομεν αὐτῷ. ἡ δὲ ὑπολαβοῦσα ἔφη· ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ μὲν χωρίου ἡ ὁρμὴ ἔσται ὅθεν περ καὶ ἐκεῖνος ἐμὲ ἐπεδέξατο γυμνήν, ὑπνωμένῳ δὲ ἡ ἐπιχείρησις ἔσται.
He indeed was asking, saying the following, “Since you compel me unwilling to kill my master, come let me hear, in what way shall we make an attempt on him?” And she took [it] up and said, “The attack will be from the very place from which that one displayed me naked, and the attempt will be on him while he sleeps.”
Herodotus 1.11.4–5
With this, their direct speech ends and we return to the main narrative—the enactment of the queen’s plot.
(2) 6.139.4: The Athenians, whether justly or unjustly, have driven the Pelasgians out of Attica, and the latter have settled on Lemnos. After the Pelasgians commit a sequence of atrocities against the Athenians over two generations, they are oppressed by famine and childlessness. Consulting the Delphic Oracle, the Pelasgians are told to pay to the Athenians whatever recompense the Athenians themselves specify. So the Pelasgians come and announce their willingness to pay the penalty for all their wrongdoing:
And the Athenians, having spread a couch in the Prytaneion as beautifully as they could and having set beside it a table full of all good things, were bidding the Pelasgians to hand over their land to them in this condition. But the Pelasgians took it up and said (οἱ δὲ Πελασγοὶ ὑπολαβόντες εἶπαν·), “Whenever with a North Wind a ship accomplishes the journey from your land to ours in a single day, then we will hand it over,” knowing that it is impossible for this to happen; for Attica lies far to the south of Lemnos. So much then.
Herodotus 6.139.3–4
At the time, the Lemnians’ posed adunaton ends negotiation. But many years later, Herodotus informs us, when Miltiades son of Cimon gets possession of the Thracian Chersonese for Athens, he is able to fulfill the paradoxical terms of the Lemnian response by sailing from there, and so takes over the island.
(3) 7.147.3: As Xerxes and his counsellors (οἱ πάρεδροι) are at Abydus on their way to Greece with the invading army and fleet, they catch sight of “grain-bearing ships sailing through the Hellespont from Pontus, conveying [grain] to Aegina and the Peloponnese” (7.147.2). Xerxes’ counsellors, when they learn that these are enemy ships, are prepared to capture them, but Xerxes has other ideas:
And Xerxes was asking where they were sailing; and they said, “To your enemies, O lord, bearing grain.” But he took it up and said (ὁ δὲ ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη·), “Aren’t we sailing to the very same place where these men are, equipped both with the rest and with grain? In what way then do these men do us harm, since they’re conveying provisions for us?”
Herodotus 7.147.3
And with Xerxes’ sage words, the entire episode ends.
(4) 9.94.3: After the unfortunate Apolloniate Euenius has been punished with blinding by his fellow citizens because the sacred flocks were ravaged by wolves on his watch, the city is stricken with infertility of flocks and of the earth. The Apolloniates, consulting the oracles at Dodona and Delphi on the cause of this sterility, are told that they unjustly punished Euenius and that their trouble will not cease until they pay him “whatever penalty he himself chooses and deems just” (9.93.4). Under the circumstances, the Apolloniates keep these oracular responses secret and send to Euenius a delegation of citizens who commiserate with him and ingratiate themselves:
In this way leading him [around to the topic] little by little (ὑπάγοντες), they were asking what recompense he would choose, if the Apolloniates would be willing to undertake to pay recompense for the things they had done. And he, not having heard the oracle, was choosing, saying that if someone would give him fields—naming those citizens whom he knew had the best allotments of those in Apollonia—and in addition the house which he knew to be the handsomest of all those in the city. And he said that, if he were in possession of these, he would be without wrath in the future, and this recompense would be sufficient for him. And he was saying these things, but those who sat beside him took it up and said (οἱ δὲ πάρεδροι εἶπαν ὑπολαβόντες·), “Euenius, the Apolloniates pay you this recompense of your blinding, according to the oracles delivered.” And he was considering it a terrible thing, at that point learning the whole story, how he had been so thoroughly deceived (ὡς ἐξαπατηθείς). But they, having purchased [them] from their owners, give him the things he chose.
Herodotus 9.94.1–3
All these instances represent the dialogue of two parties, in which the ὑπο- of ὑπολαμβάνω signifies taking it up “in rapid succession”—essentially in response in rapid-fire dialogue. [17] And all occur in the context of deliberation or negotiation. But more than that: all of these instances are competitive exchanges, ranging from the slightly supercilious response of Xerxes to his counsellors, to the brisk come-back of the queen to the surly reluctance of Gyges hoping to offer an insuperable impediment, to the open hostility of the Lemnians to the Athenians, and the veiled manipulation of Euenius by a delegation of Apolloniate citizens. Often in these hostile or aggressive exchanges, one or both parties are unnamed, representative figures: Xerxes’ “counsellors” (πάρεδροι) at 7.147; the Apolloniates who “sit beside” Euenius (πάρεδροι) and trick the crucial concessions out of him (9.94); and both Pelasgians and Athenians in their wary verbal duel at 6.139. The anonymous interlocutors who populate these exchanges give them a colloquial feel—they read like popular anecdotes or jokes.
In these contexts, the phrase ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε also sometimes marks the moment at which the narrator shifts from indirect discourse to vivid direct speech (6.139, 9.94). [18] More significantly, the formula always introduces the last word—the climactic response by which one speaker trumps or caps his opponent and ends the discussion. [19] This capping often takes the form of using or turning the interlocutor’s own words against him—as Xerxes does at 7.147, and the Apolloniates at 9.94. [20] In a neat variation on this pattern, the queen’s trumping response to Gyges turns against him both his words (ἐπιχειρήσομεν : ἐπιχείρησις) and Candaules’ actions, crafting a perfectly symmetrical plan to take revenge on the reckless king who displayed her naked. In all these respects, Herodotus’ usage conforms closely to the pattern we observe in over forty fables preserved in the late fable collections, which deploy the formula ὑπολαβὼν εἶπε/ἔφη, or the later, post-classical equivalent ὑποτυχὼν εἶπε/ἔφη, in precisely the same contexts. [21]
So, for example, many fables represent aggressive conversation between two speakers or groups of speakers, usually capped by a final epigrammatic utterance. [22] For the simplest possible version, consider fable no. 7 Perry, “The Cat and the Birds” (= 14 Chambry 1925-26, 14 Chambry3):
αἴλουρος ἀκούσας ὅτι ἔν τινι ἐπαύλει ὄρνεις νοσοῦσι, σχηματίσας ἑαυτὸν εἰς ἰατρὸν καὶ τὰ τῆς ἐπιστήμης πρόσφορα ἀναλαβὼν ἐργαλεῖα, παρεγένετο καὶ στὰς πρὸ τῆς ἐπαύλεως ἐπυνθάνετο αὐτῶν πῶς ἔχοιεν. αἱ δὲ ὑποτυχοῦσαι, “καλῶς,” ἔφασαν, “ἐὰν σὺ ἐντεῦθεν ἀπαλλαγῇς.”
οὕτως καὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων οἱ πονηροὶ τοὺς φρονίμους οὐ λανθάνουσι, κἂν τὰ μάλιστα χρηστότητα ὑποκρίνωνται.
A cat, when he heard that the birds in a certain spot were sick, got himself up as a doctor and, taking along the instruments appropriate to this profession, went and took his stand near the spot. He asked them how they were, and they replied, “Very well, indeed, if you get away from here.”
So it is with men, too. Bad men do not fool those who are wise no matter how much they make a show of goodness.
trans. Daly 1961
Here, the moment at which the fable shifts to direct discourse for the trumping response of the birds is marked by the speech formula αἱ δὲ ὑποτυχοῦσαι … ἔφασαν. [23] The verb ὑποτυγχάνω is entirely post-classical in preserved Greek texts, and, even in later periods, rare in literary prose. [24] It occurs, however, nearly forty times in fables in the late fable collections, always in the fixed form aorist participle plus verb of speaking, and always in exactly this context of a witty, trumping riposte to an interlocutor that ends discussion. [25]
And strikingly, in more than half the fables that use the ὑποτυχὼν/-οῦσα ἔφη formula, ὑπολαβών/-οῦσα shows up as a manuscript variant for the post-classical verb ὑποτυχών. [26] Thus, among examples of the not uncommon fable type of an explicit verbal quarrel or competition between two animals, we find “The Fox and the Crocodile” (fable no. 20 Perry = 35 Chambry 1925–26):
ἀλώπηξ καὶ κροκόδειλος περὶ εὐγενείας ἤριζον. πολλὰ δὲ τοῦ κροκοδείλου διεξιόντος περὶ τῆς τῶν προγόνων λαμπρότητος καὶ τὸ τελευταῖον λέγοντος ὡς γεγυμνασιαρχηκότων ἐστὶ πατέρων, ἡ ἀλώπηξ ὑποτυχοῦσα ἔφη, “ἀλλὰ κἂν σὺ μὴ εἴπῃς, ἀπὸ τοῦ δέρματος φαίνῃ ὅτι ἀπὸ πολλῶν εἶ γυμνασμάτων.”
οὕτω καὶ τῶν ψευδολόγων ἀνθρώπων ἔλεγχός ἐστι τὰ πράγματα.
A fox and a crocodile were comparing family trees. The crocodile had already talked a great deal about the illustriousness of his ancestors, and finally, while he was saying that he counted gymnasiarchs among his forebears, the fox took it up and said, “Well, even if you didn’t tell me so, it would be obvious from your skin that you have had a great deal to do with gymnastics.”
So, too, facts trip up men who tell lies.
trans. Daly 1961
The text here follows Perry’s edition; but note that in all three different versions Chambry prints, the fox’s punchline is slightly different. According to the apparatus criticus of Chambry 1925–26, several mss of his tradition I (Pg, Mb, Me, Mf), as well as all the mss of his traditions II and III read ὑπολαβοῦσα ἔφη or simply ὑπολαβοῦσα instead of ὑποτυχοῦσα ἔφη or just ἔφη. As in all but two of the fables that use this formula, the fox’s ὑποτυχοῦσα ἔφη here marks the moment of shift from indirect to direct speech, while in all the fables in which it occurs, the formula marks the fable’s “punchline” or last word. [27] And here, in contrast to the simpler version of “The Cat and the Birds,” we find another feature very characteristic of the fable uses: the fox’s retort to the crocodile wittily turns the latter’s own words against him, transforming the boastful reptile’s γεγυμνασιαρχηκότων (ancestors who were gymnasiarchs) into the insulting γυμνασμάτων (his tough, unsightly hide revealing the many “work-outs” [i.e. beatings] he’s received; or perhaps the crocodile’s leathery skin suggests sun damage?).
Again, we can see the characteristic function of this speaking formula in fable no. 222 Perry (= 250 Hausrath, 342 Chambry 1925–26, 343 Chambry3): [28]
ὗς καὶ κύων πρὸς ἀλλήλους διεφέροντο. τῆς δὲ ὑὸς ὀμνυούσης τὴν Ἀφροδίτην ὅτι, ἐὰν μὴ παύσηται, τοῖς ὀδοῦσιν ἀνατεμεῖ, ἡ κύων ἔλεγε καὶ κατ᾿ αὐτὸ τοῦτο αὐτὴν ἀγνωμονεῖν, εἴ γε Ἀφροδίτη μισεῖ, ὥστε ἐὰν φάγῃ τις κρέας ὑὸς τοῦτον οὐκ ἐᾷ εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν αὐτῆς εἰσιέναι. καὶ ἡ ὗς ὑποτυχοῦσα ἔφη, “ἀλλ᾿, ὦ τᾶν, τοῦτο οὐ στυγοῦσα ποιεῖ, προνοουμένη δέ, ἵνα μηδείς με θύσῃ.”
A sow and a bitch were bickering with one another. When the sow swore by Aphrodite that she would tear her apart with her teeth if she didn’t stop, the bitch said that was just where she showed her ignorance, for she [Aphrodite] hated her so much that if a man has eaten pork, she doesn’t let him into her shrine. But the sow had an answer and said, “Oh, yes, but you know she doesn’t do this because she hates me. She’s looking out for me so that no one will sacrifice me.”
trans. Daly 1961, slightly modified
Here too, one of the several manuscripts that preserve this fable (Mb), reads ὑπολαβοῦσα ἔφη in place of ὑποτυχοῦσα ἔφη, while another manuscript (Pc) omits ὑποτυχοῦσα entirely, reading simply καὶ ἡ ὗς ἔφη. And here again, with a shift from indirect to direct speech, ὑποτυχοῦσα ἔφη introduces the fable’s internal “punchline,” in which the sow cleverly transforms the bitch’s abuse into its opposite, claiming the special favor of Aphrodite and thereby winning the argument and shutting down any further discussion. I offer this particular example because here the epimythion or moral external to the fable furnishes a veritable gloss on the function of the speech formula ὑποτυχοῦσα/ὑπολαβοῦσα ἔφη: οὕτως οἱ φρόνιμοι τῶν ῥητόρων πολλάκις καὶ τὰ ὑπὸ τῶν ἐχθρῶν φερόμενα ὀνείδη εἰς ἐπαίνους μετασχηματίζουσι. (“So it is that clever public speakers often transform even the abuses hurled at them by enemies into praise.”)
Finally, let me offer one more example to demonstrate that this colloquial speech formula is not limited to animal fables. Consider the allegorical fable “The Man who Got a Deposit and Oath,” which Perry suspected was an old fable likely to go back to the earliest prose compilation of fables of Demetrius of Phalerum (fable no. 239 Perry = 175 Hausrath = 299 Chambry 1925–26): [29]
παρακαταθήκην τις λαβὼν φίλου ἀποστερεῖν διενοεῖτο. καὶ δὴ προσκαλουμένου αὐτὸν ἐκεῖνου ἐπὶ ὅρκον, εὐλαβούμενος εἰς ἀγρὸν ἐπορεύετο. γενόμενος δὲ κατὰ τὰς πύλας, ὡς ἐθεάσατό τινα χωλὸν ἐξιόντα, ἐπυνθάνετο αὐτοῦ τίς τε ἦν καὶ ποῖ πορεύεται. τοῦ δὲ εἰπόντος Ὅρκον ἑαυτὸν εἶναι καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀσεβεῖς βαδίζειν, ἐκ δευτέρου ἤρετο αὐτὸν διὰ πόσου χρόνου ἐπιφοιτᾶν ταῖς πόλεσιν εἴωθεν. ὁ δὲ ἀπεκρίνατο, “δι᾿ ἐτῶν τεσσαράκοντα, ἐνίοτε δὲ καὶ τριάκοντα.” καὶ ὃς οὐδὲν μελλήσας τῇ ὑστεραίᾳ ὤμοσε μὴ εἰληφέναι τὴν παρακαταθηκήν. περιπεσὼν δὲ τῷ Ὅρκῳ, καὶ ἀπαγόμενος ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ κρημνόν, ᾐτιᾶτο αὐτὸν ὅτι, προειπὼν ὡς διὰ τριάκοντα ἐτῶν ἐπιπορεύεται, οὐδὲ πρὸς μίαν αὐτῷ ἡμέραν ἄδειαν δίδωσιν. ὁ δὲ ὑποτυχὼν ἔφη, “ἀλλ᾿ εὖ ἴσθι ὡς, ὅταν με λίαν τις ἀνιάσῃ, καὶ αὐθημερὸν ἐπιφοιτᾶν εἴωθα.”
ὅτι ἀδιόριστός ἐστι τοῖς κακοῖς ἡ ἐκ θεοῦ τιμωρία.
A man had accepted a deposit in trust from a friend and was thinking about cheating him out of it. In fact, when his friend was going to require him to take an oath as to his responsibility, he purposely left town. But when he got to the gate and saw a lame man going out, he asked him who he was and where he was going. When the lame man told him that he was the spirit of the oath, he asked again at how frequent intervals he usually visited cities. The answer was, “Every forty years, sometimes every thirty years.” At that, without any further hesitation, he took an oath the next day that he had not received the deposit. But he fell into the hands of the spirit of the oath, and as he was being led off to execution, he complained to the spirit that, while he had said that he only made his visits every thirty years, here he hadn’t even given him one day’s grace. The spirit replied, “Oh, but you see when anyone gives me enough cause for annoyance, I have a way of coming back even on the same day.”
That the gods’ punishment of evil men is not defined in time.
trans. Daly 1961
In this allegorical fable—Horkos punishing the wicked in his own time—we find the same alternation between ὑποτυχών and ὑπολαβών marking Oath’s climactic response among the manuscripts. Thus, of the five manuscripts that preserve this fable, four (Pf, Me, Mf, Ma) read ὑποτυχών alone or ὑποτυχὼν ἔφη, while one manuscript (Mb) instead reads ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη.
How are we to account for these striking similarities of narrative construction and specific diction between Herodotus’ anecdotes and Aesopic fables preserved in the late collections? The late collections of fables have an immensely complicated manuscript history. Over a hundred different manuscripts containing different and different numbers of fables survive, ranging from the tenth or eleventh to the sixteenth centuries of our era. [30] In his editio maior of 1925–26, Émile Chambry sorted these manuscripts into four different classes and a class of “mixed” manuscripts, and subsequent scholars have generally accepted his subdivision of manuscript classes or recensions (even as additional manuscripts have come to light). [31] But at the same time, it is clear that copyists of these manuscripts throughout the process of transmission drew on multiple sources, adding fables or altering the wording of fables from other manuscripts when these were available to them (what is traditionally termed contaminatio in textual criticism). In addition, copyists in the tradition clearly felt free to alter these short, simple, unprepossessing units of text, since (as Perry observes) a fixed or canonical text of Aesop’s fables never existed and copyists were creating collections as resources for their own use. [32] Thus there is a massive amount of variation among individual texts in the different manuscripts, both between and within different classes or recensions, due both to contaminatio and to the copyists’ free adaptation (expansion, contraction, paraphrase) of individual fables. One has only to contemplate the multiple versions of each fable, each with its complex apparatus criticus, as printed in Chambry’s editio maior, to appreciate the dizzying possibilities of variation for each individual fable.
And yet, in spite of all this textual fluidity in details, there is a recognizable endurance of form and formulae among the welter of differences—a hard core of genre that persists. Thus certain structures of narrative, balance of parts, formulaic addresses of one character to another, and fixed forms of internal punchline (epilogos) and external “moral” (epimythion) recur with impressive regularity among the fables. [33] And, in fact, this is just what we would expect, since it is precisely by such generic markers or distinctive features that readers and composers of these texts over centuries are able to recognize them as fables in spite of endless minute variations. One such enduring fable formula is the use of ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη or its equivalent ὑποτυχὼν ἔφη to mark the final trumping response of one fable character to another.
In terms of this specific quotative formula, it is worth noting that all the occurrences of ὑποτυχών (= 36), and all but five occurrences of ὑπολαβών (= 28) figure in fables of Perry’s recension I, or the closely related Ia. [34] Recension I (also commonly called the Augustana, after its most well-known representative, the manuscript Monacensis 564, once housed in Augsburg, but now in Munich) is generally recognized by scholars as the oldest and fullest of the ancient fable collections, from which collection all the other recensions are thought ultimately to derive. [35] And, while it is impossible to date with certainty the original compilations of fables that lie behind the preserved medieval manuscripts, B. E. Perry argues for a date somewhere in the range of the third century BCE to the third century CE for the ancestor of recension I. This argument is based partly on the fullness of the collection, and partly on the language and style of the fables in the Augustana recension. For, as Émile Chambry noted already in his editio maior, there is nothing in the diction or style of the fables in the Augustana collection that is identifiably post-Hellenistic, and there are no Christianizing elements detectable in these fables. [36] Indeed, Perry contends that the kernel of the Augustana collection may go all the way back to the λόγων Αἰσωπείων συναγωγαί known to have been composed in the fourth century BCE by Demetrius of Phalerum. [37]
More recent scholars of fable have become skeptical and wary of this kind of optimistic Quellenforschung intended to take us back to an “original” collection of the classical period, but it is worth emphasizing that Chambry’s and Perry’s observations about the diction and style of the Augustana fable collection have never been refuted. [38] Thus Niklas Holzberg, rejecting the Quellenforschung approach of these older scholars, offers an alternative explanation of the same phenomena. For Holzberg, following the structuralist narratological analysis of the Augustana collection offered by Morten Nøjgaard (1964), the Augustana (or some core of it) is the work of a single author, composed as a literary collection for readerly enjoyment, rather than (as Perry contended) as humble raw material, with no literary pretensions, to be culled for incorporation into properly literary or rhetorical written genres. [39] According to this argument, Holzberg suggests, the single author of the Augustana composed his fables in a deliberately simple, archaizing, and “monotonous” (formulaic) style, so as to seem like the authentic work of an Aesop who lived hundreds of years before. [40]
I do not find Holzberg’s alternative account persuasive, [41] but the point is that both accounts get us to the same place: the diction and style of the fables of the Augustana collection are simple, traditional, and markedly formulaic. Without making any judgment about the age and “original” form and sources of the Augustana, we can attribute all these features to the organizing principle and persistence of genre. In these terms: ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη and ὑποτυχὼν ἔφη are features of popular, colloquial oral narratives of aggressive verbal dueling between two speakers, that get taken up and incorporated into fables since this is a common narrative structure for fable, and since there is no bar of style or decorum that would prevent such use of low, colloquial language in this humble speech genre. These snappy quotative markers then crystallize as recognizable formulae of fable and so persist, thereby providing us with a precious sedimented residue of traditional colloquial narrative resources. Outside the fable collections, ὑποτυχὼν ἔφη looks to be a lexical replacement for ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη in the same function in the post-classical period, but within the Augustana, both diachronically distinct forms coexist and endure.
Indeed, we can even cite a parallel for the coexistence of earlier and later semantic equivalents as fable formulae in the Augustana collection. As various scholars have noted, logos is the term that consistently shows up in epimythia of the Augustana collection to designate the preceding fable, even though the common term for “fable” in the post-classical period (and the one that dominates the late Progymnasmata) is muthos. Logos as a term meaning “fable” is prevalent in fifth-century BCE authors (Aristophanes, Herodotus) and still common, along with muthos, in fourth-century authors (Plato, Aristotle, Demetrius of Phalerum). But, as Perry observes, “In later times μῦθος became so common that it supplanted λόγος even in the title of the Augustana.” Perry concludes that this use of logos in the epimythia of the Augustana is a feature that dates back to “Alexandrian times” and derives from popular oral tradition. [42]
To return to Herodotus: I would contend that the similarities of tone, register, and semantics between the fable narratives we have considered and Herodotus’ anecdotes strongly suggest that, in his use of ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη, Herodotus is consciously adapting a colloquial speech formula from popular oral narrative to enliven his account.
Many of the same patterns are recognizable in Thucydides’ rare uses of ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking, though we also begin to see adaptation of the formula to other more neutral or generic dialogue contexts in written prose narrative. Forms of ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking occur only four times in Thucydides, all in exceptional moments when the historian portrays rapid-fire dialogue or conversation: 2.72.1, 3.113, 5.49, and 5.85. [43] In two of these passages, forms of ὑπολαμβάνω occur in brief, aggressive exchanges between two unnamed individuals or groups. First, at 3.113, a herald is sent from the defeated Ambraciots to request the bodies of their dead from the opposing force of Acarnanians after a battle. But, unbeknownst to the herald, Ambraciot reinforcements have in the meantime been caught unprepared by an Athenian and allied contingent in a second battle at Idomene and devastated:
And the herald, when he saw the arms of the Ambraciots from the city, was amazed at the number; for he did not know what had happened (τὸ πάθος), but he thought [the arms] belonged to the men with him. And someone (τις) asked him what he was marvelling at and how many of them were dead, the questioner in turn thinking that the herald was from the men at Idomene. But the herald said two hundred at most. But the questioner took it up and said, “Aren’t these arms piled up here clearly [more than two hundred]?—Why, it’s more than 1,000!” (ὑπολαβὼν δ᾿ ὁ ἐρωτῶν εἶπεν, οὔκουν τὰ ὅπλα ταυτὶ φαίνεται, ἀλλὰ πλέον ἢ χιλίων;). And the herald said in turn, “Then, they’re not from the men fighting with us.” And the other answered, “They certainly are, if you were fighting yesterday at Idomene.” “But we weren’t fighting with anyone yesterday, but the day before, in the retreat.” “Well, but we were certainly fighting yesterday with these who had come to aid from the city of the Ambraciots.” And the herald, when he heard and realized that the aid from the city had been destroyed, groaning aloud and stricken by the magnitude of the present evils, he went away immediately without having accomplished anything and was no longer [even] asking for the dead bodies. For this indeed was the greatest suffering/misfortune (πάθος) for a single city in an equal number of days that occurred in this war. And I have not recorded the number of the dead, because the number that is said to have perished is unbelievable relative to the size of the city.
Thucydides 3.113.2–6
This is a rare and remarkable sequence in Thucydidean narrative. Rather than set speeches by kings or generals addressing their troops, foreign ambassadors, or civic assemblies, here two Everymen, anonymous combatants, engage in a brief rapid-fire dialogue. In this context, ὑπολαβών…εἶπεν marks what the questioner himself regards as a decisive retort to the befuddled herald, its colloquial vigor reinforced by the sharp, slangy deictic ταυτί. [44] In the event, this retort does not end discussion because of the complementary misprision of the two speakers—the poor herald assuming there was only one battle; the anonymous interlocutor assuming that the herald represents the group defeated in the second battle. But as the rapid-fire back-and-forth continues, we get another striking colloquial feature: for the last two exchanges, verbs of speaking entirely disappear and we are given simply quoted dialogue, evoking lively oral narrative or performance. [45] Finally, the narrator’s brief editorial comment at the end of the episode explains and motivates this highly unusual instance of Thucydidean enargeia: unable plausibly to convey the “suffering” (πάθος) of the Ambraciots through a coolly objective numerical reckoning of the dead, the narrator instead gives vividness and heft to their misfortune through the lively, colloquial exchange of ordinary citizens. [46]
Thucydides 5.49 likewise represents an aggressive exchange between unnamed, representative groups, though without the poignancy and elaboration of 3.113. At this point, Thucydides is narrating the decision of the Eleans to ban the Lacedemonians from participation in the Olympic games of 420 BCE on the grounds that they had violated the Olympic truce by attacking a fort and sending troops in to occupy the Elean town of Lepreum. The Lacedemonians send a delegation to appeal the decision, claiming that the truce had not yet been announced in Lacedaemon when they sent in the hoplites:
But the Eleans said that the truce was already in force among them (since they announce it first among themselves), and with them in a state of peace and not expecting it on the grounds that they were under a truce, [they said] that the Lacedemonians had caught them unawares and done them wrong. But the Lacedemonians retorted (οἱ δὲ Λακεδαιμόνιοι ὑπελάμβανον) that they ought not to have announced the truce after that to Lacedemon, if indeed they already considered them to be doing wrong, but the fact that they had done so [proved that] they did not think [that], and [once the truce was announced], they had never borne arms against them. But the Eleans were sticking to the same point (Ἠλεῖοι δὲ τοῦ αὐτοῦ λόγου εἴχοντο), that they would not be persuaded that they had not done wrong, but that if [the Spartans] were willing to hand Lepreum back to them, they would let go their share of the silver [money] and themselves pay on behalf of the Lacedemonians what was due to the god.
Thucydides 5.49.3–5
Here again, the Lacedemonians offer what they consider a decisive retort to the Eleans within a barbed and testy exchange (introduced by ὑπελάμβανον), but the Eleans reject this bit of Spartan logic-splicing and stick to their position. [47] In this context, we should perhaps understand the anomalous imperfect tense of ὑπελάμβανον as conative: the Lacedemonians “were trying to trump [the Eleans] in argument,” but (Thucydides implies by the use of the imperfect), they failed. [48]
Given the semantics of ὑπολαμβάνω in these two passages, it is highly likely that it signifies aggressive verbal dueling in dialogue in yet a third passage, this time a brief debate between the Spartan king Archidamus and ambassadors from the doomed city of Plataea (Thucydides 2.71–72). At 2.71, the Plataeans send ambassadors to appeal to Archidamus and the Spartans not to make war on their city. In a brief speech, the ambassadors remind the Spartans of their own participation in battle when Pausanias with a coalition of allies liberated Greece from the Medes. They go on to claim that Pausanias had sworn an oath after the battle that the Plataeans should inhabit their own land in perpetuity as independent agents (αὐτονόμους); that no one should make an expedition against them unjustly; and that if anyone should try, all the allies would come to their aid. Archidamus responds equally briefly to this Plataean appeal:
And when the Plataeans had said so many things, Archidamus took it up and said (τοσαῦτα εἰπόντων τῶν Πλαταιῶν Ἀρχίδαμος ὑπολαβὼν εἶπεν), “You say just things, O men of Plataea, if your actions conform to your words. For just as Pausanias handed it over to you, you yourselves be autonomous and help liberate the rest, however many had a share of the dangers then and took the oath together, and are now under the Athenians …”
Thucydides 2.72
Translators of Thucydides regularly construe ὑπολαβών εἶπεν here to mean that Archidamus “interrupted” the Plataeans in the midst of their appeal, but there is no justification for this interpretation. [49] The Plataeans’ appeal is in fact complete in one short paragraph, beginning and ending with mention of the Spartan king Pausanias and his promise “to let them live autonomously.” Furthermore, the aorist participle εἰπόντων signifies that they are done speaking. [50] Instead, ὑπολαβὼν εἶπεν signifies Archidamus’ aggressive, trumping response, which carefully picks up all the terms and ideas of the Plataeans and turns them against the hapless ambassadors. And, characteristically, Archidamus’ sharp, decisive response shuts down the discussion—without a word, the ambassadors go back to their city to communicate his message to the populace and get further instructions (Thucydides 2.72.2).
The final occurrence of ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking occurs at a very significant juncture in Thucydides’ text: in the preliminary exchange of the Melian Dialogue in Book 5. The Athenian representatives of the invading army are not allowed access to the entire populace; instead, they are invited to speak concerning their reasons for coming “to the magistrates and the ruling few” (5.84.3). In this context, the Athenians first propose a style of discussion:
ἐπειδὴ οὐ πρὸς τὸ πλῆθος οἱ λόγοι γίγνονται, ὅπως δὴ μὴ ξυνεχεῖ ῥήσει οἱ πολλοὶ ἐπαγωγὰ καὶ ἀνέλεγκτα ἐσάπαξ ἀκούσαντες ἡμῶν ἀπατηθῶσιν (γιγνώσκομεν γὰρ ὅτι τοῦτο φρονεῖ ἡμῶν ἡ ἐς τοὺς ὀλίγους ἀγωγή), ὑμεῖς οἱ καθήμενοι ἔτι ἀσφαλέστερον ποιήσατε. καθ᾿ ἕκαστον γὰρ καὶ μηδ᾿ ὑμεῖς ἑνὶ λόγῳ, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὸ μὴ δοκοῦν ἐπιτηδείως λέγεσθαι εὐθὺς ὑπολαμβάνοντες κρίνετε. καὶ πρῶτον εἰ ἀρέσκει ὡς λέγομεν εἴπατε.
Thucydides 5.85
“Since our words do not take place before the masses, in order that the many not be deceived, hearing from us all at once plausible and unchallenged arguments in a continuous speech (for we realize that this is the motive for our being led into the presence of the few), [go ahead], you who sit here—make it still more secure. For on each point, you too should not make a single speech, but instead reply at once to anything which you disapprove of in what we say, and so form your judgment. [51] And first say if it’s acceptable [to proceed] as we propose.”
Commentators have noted how carefully and self-consciously Thucydides has his anonymous representative figures here lay out the form and parameters of the speaking situation; as Simon Hornblower notes, “The invitation, in this para. to a dispute in dialogue form is expressed in a remarkably self-conscious manner, using what may have been the technical language of rhetoric; ῥῆσις is used only here in Th. It is almost as if Th. has self-referentially stepped outside the constraints of his ‘genre’ to explain what he is doing.” [52] H. Ll. Hudson Williams in 1950 had already pointed out that the alternatives the Athenians pose of long, uninterrupted speeches or rapid-fire dialogue precisely correspond to (and presumably derive from) the Sophistic system of epideictic makrologia vs. dialectic question and answer (as we see it represented also in several Platonic dialogues). [53] And indeed, this is precisely what is expressed in the Athenians’ proposal by the participle ὑπολαμβάνοντες, which here by itself seems to mean “in dialogue” or “in response.” [54] Given the context, it is tempting to suggest that the use of ὑπολαμβάνω in this sense may itself have developed in Sophistic circles, picked up from colloquial or popular narrative contexts and made into a technical term for rapid-fire dialogue and debate (in this sense, perhaps a term of art, like ῥῆσις?) Indeed, it is remarkable that, after a single verb of answering at 5.86 (οἱ δὲ Μηλίων ξύνεδροι ἀπεκρίναντο), Thucydides abandons the narrative frame altogether, offering simply the direct speeches of the two participants, in a form that mimes high drama or the lowest forms of colloquial narrative. [55] At the same time, it would be a mistake to imagine that in such a semantic development, ὑπολαμβάνω has lost its competitive, aggressive edge. For the Melian Dialogue—like all Sophistic debates—is a competition in which each participant in the exchange is fighting desperately to win. As Colin Macleod puts it, “It is a battle, as their choice of vocabulary implies …” [56] In light of the parallels, the present tense of the participle is unusual here; we almost always find the aorist ὑπολαβών or ὑπολαβόντες. Perhaps in this instance, the present participle signifies repeated responses in dialogue (just as καθ᾿ ἕκαστον does)?

II. Fourth-Century Occurrences

Here and in Kurke (2011), I have examined in detail all the fifth-century occurrences of ὑπολαμβάνω in speech contexts and juxtaposed them to its use in fable. This will enable us to be more selective in consideration of the more abundant evidence of fourth-century prose authors. Xenophon and Plato especially take up and continue the patterns of usage we have observed, while also expanding the range of signification of ὑπολαμβάνω as a resource for presenting complex dialectical speech situations in narrative prose.
ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking occurs in Xenophon thirteen times in all (or fourteen, if we include the Constitution of the Athenians attributed to him). Over half these examples (eight total) occur in lively dialogue or debate of two speakers. Of these, three mark the final capping response of one speaker to another. In two of these three occurrences, significantly, it is the know-it-all Cyrus capping the suspicious and peevish Median king Cyaxares at the end of extended discussions of generalship or kingship (Cyropaideia 4.1.19, 5.5.35, the latter with interruption explicitly noted: καὶ ὁ Κῦρος ἔτι λέγοντος αὐτοῦ ὑπολαβὼν εἶπε). In one more occurrence, at Memorabilia 2.1.29 (the sole occurrence in the Memorabilia), it figures in Prodicus’ ornate fable of the “Choice of Heracles.” Here it is used to introduce the last speech of the allegorical figure Kakia, who imagines that she is making a decisive, trumping response to her opposite number, Aretē, that will shut down any further discussion. [57] Five more times out of these eight, ὑπολαβών … εἶπε occurs in rapid-fire dialogue of two speakers, but does not (as far as I can tell) represent a final, capping response. Instead, the phrase seems to be a vivid mimetic touch in the representation of a decisive or impassioned retort (Cyropaideia 6.1.37, Oeconomicus 10.4), or the articulation of a key moment of counter-argument in reasoned debate (Hieron 6.9, 8.1, 8.8).
Just once in the Hellenica, ὑπολαμβάνω is used to introduce a hectoring or challenging question by a hypothetical, anonymous interlocutor who thinks he has a fatal objection. When Polydamas of Pharsalus is sent as representative of the Thessalians to Sparta, he delivers a very long speech to convey to the Spartans the danger posed by the ambitious Jason of Pherae (Hellenica 6.1.4–16), in the course of which he quotes at length Jason’s earlier detailed appeal to him (Hellenica 6.1.5–12). Attempting to enlist the aid of Polydamas as the most influential citizen of Pharsalus, Jason had just catalogued his allies and the strength of his army, when he paused for a rhetorical question:
So that, in fear of what, would I not expect easily to subdue your [city]? Perhaps then, someone who doesn’t know me would ask (τάχα οὖν ὑπολάβοι ἄν τις ἐμοῦ ἄπειρος·), “Why then do you delay and why do you not already make an expedition against the Pharsalians?” Because, by Zeus, it seems to me much better in every way to attach you [to myself] willingly rather than unwillingly.
Hellenica 6.1.7
It is easy to see how the use of ὑπολαμβάνω for such a hypothetical, anonymous heckling question continues the usages we have already considered, for here, rather than offering a decisive response that shuts down further discussion, the imaginary heckler raises a question meant to stop the interlocutor in his tracks. [58] In this context in the Hellenica, the imaginary question briefly but effectively transforms monologue into rapid-fire verbal dueling between two, in which the imaginary speaker thinks to triumph with a decisive question or objection. And it is surely no accident that Xenophon represents this challenge as doubly embedded in direct speech, for it points to the colloquial origins for this kind of aggressive verbal sniping, here artfully included for maximal mimetic vigor and rhetorical punch. [59]
Finally, on four occasions, Xenophon uses ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε to mark the moment at which a new speaker claims the discursive floor to initiate dialogue or take over response in the context of multiple speech participants. Thus for example, in the Anabasis, when the news of Cyrus’ death first reaches the Greeks and the Great King sends representatives to command them to lay down their arms and come to his court, Xenophon stages a colloquy among a whole group of Greek army commanders and the sole Greek, named Phalinus, who has come with the Persian emissaries. Clearchus first answers him briefly (in indirect discourse) that it is not appropriate for the victors to hand over their arms, then, shifting to direct speech, says, “But you, O commanders, answer these men, whatever you consider most noble and best (ἀλλ᾿, ἔφη, ὑμεῖς μέν, ὦ ἄνδρες στρατηγοί, τούτοις ἀποκρίνασθε ὅ τι κάλλιστόν τε καὶ ἄριστον ἔχετε). And I’ll be back immediately.” With that he returns to the sacrifice he had been in the midst of making when the emissaries arrived, leaving the floor to the other Greek commanders (Anabasis 2.1.9). At this point, Xenophon recounts the responses of three named individuals (Cleanor the Arcadian, Proxenus the Theban, and Theopompus the Athenian), all resistant to the king’s proposal (Anabasis 2.1.10–13), and then notes that “they said that some others [unnamed] spoke in response more conciliatingly” (ἄλλους δέ τινας ἔφασαν λέγειν ὑπομαλακιζομένους, Anabasis 2.1.14). “At this point,” Xenophon tells us, “Clearchus returned and asked if they had already answered” (Anabasis 2.1.14–15). Then immediately, “Phalinus took it up and said (Φαλῖνος δὲ ὑπολαβὼν εἶπεν·), ‘Of these, different men say different things, but you say what you think’” (Anabasis 2.1.15–16), whereupon a cautious, wary dialogue between Clearchus and Phalinus takes place.
Clearly, in Xenophon’s representation, Phalinus has already become frustrated with the acephalous discourse style of the Greek commanders. Perceiving Clearchus to be the real leader, he is eager to initiate a sharp one-on-one negotiation with him on his return to the group, and Xenophon flags the moment at which he does so with the formula ὑπολαβών εἶπεν. Again, this phrase does not mean “interrupted”—for no one else was speaking—but does signify the assertive claiming of the conversational “floor” or “turn” for dialogue between two. And while this meaning bears a family resemblance to the usages we have already considered, we can see it as the adaptation or extension of a colloquial discourse marker to new needs of mimetic narrative prose. For in fact, this kind of narrative representation of a complex speech situation in which multiple speakers are participating in unpredictable ways is unprecedented in mimetic prose. We do not find such scenes in Herodotus or Thucydides, where, even if there are multiple speakers, the sequence and speaking hierarchy are always clear, and long, reasoned speeches proceed unchallenged in staid and established order. Thus, for example, consider Herodotus’ “Debate on the Constitutions” (Herodotus 3.80–82), where apparently the order of the speakers is never in doubt, or Thucydides’ representation of the debate in Sparta about Athenian treaty violations that leads to the Spartan declaration of war (Thucydides 1.66–88). Here Athenian ambassadors, present by chance, politely ask permission to address the assembled allies when the Corinthians have finished speaking (Thucydides 1.72). [60] But this is of course one important theme of the entire Anabasis—how can an army function without a single leader and a clear chain of command?—which is here staged in miniature through the mimetic representation of complex, multi-speaker debate.
We find a very similar pattern for the other two uses of ὑπολαβών + a verb of speaking in the Anabasis—both within a single complex speech situation in Book 3. At this point, the Persian king has treacherously lured all the Greek commanders to a colloquy under truce, captured and killed them, and the men of the now leaderless Greek force await their own horrible fate. In this context, Xenophon, who is neither a commander nor even a soldier in the Ten Thousand, calls together the company commanders in the middle of the night and urges them to mobilize, take over the command, and march the Greeks in swift armed retreat. His arguments and impassioned appeal impress the company commanders, who all call on him to take command, except a certain Apollonides, who speaks (we are told) with a Boeotian accent:
This man said that anyone who claimed that he could secure salvation in any other way than by persuading the king, if he could, was talking nonsense, and with that, he began to go on about their helplessness. But while [he was still speaking], Xenophon took it up and spoke thus (ὁ μέντοι Ξενοφῶν μεταξὺ ὑπολαβὼν ἔλεξεν ὧδε·), “O most remarkable man, though you see, you do not understand, and though you hear, you do not remember…”
Anabasis 3.1.26–27
Xenophon goes on to remind him in sharp terms of the king’s initial demand that they lay down their arms; his willingness to make a truce and provide them with necessary supplies when they refused to do so; his treacherous capture of their commanders come to parley with him under truce; and the commanders’ subsequent torture and death. Xenophon ends this speech by turning to address the other troop commanders, urging them to strip Apollonides of his command and demote him to a baggage-carrier:
“For this one shames his homeland [Boeotia] and all Greece because, though being a Greek, he behaves like this.” At that point, Hagesias of Stymphalus took it up and said (ἐντεῦθεν ὑπολαβὼν Ἀγασίας Στυμφάλιος εἶπεν·), “But this one has no proper claim either on Boeotia or any other part of Greece at all, since I have seen him with both his ears pierced, Lydian-style.” And so it was. So they drove this one away …
Anabasis 3.1.30–31
Here again, in a complex speech situation with multiple potential speakers, ὑπολαβὼν ἔλεξεν/ εἶπεν twice marks the moment at which one individual out of many assertively claims the discursive floor—used first for Xenophon’s impatient interruption (which is explicitly flagged as such), and then again for Hagesias’ attack based on Apollonides’ shockingly ungreek practice of wearing earrings. Still, even if this represents a new use or extension of usage, we might note that, in common with many other uses of ὑπολαβών as a verb of speaking, the exchange here is a barbed and hostile one and that both Xenophon and Hagesias in different ways trump Apollonides’ utterance and shut down all further discussion. [61] Thus for Xenophon, this use of ὑπολαβών serves his narrative and mimetic purposes, allowing him to capture complex, unpredictable, and dynamic speech situations in lucid prose.
Turning to Plato, we should acknowledge first that Plato uses ὑπολαμβάνω most frequently as a verb of intellection. Thus, according to Frederick Ast (1835–1838), this verb occurs seventy-five times in Plato in two related meanings: “accipio, intelligo” (twenty-four times) and “arbitror, existimo, statuo; sumo vel pono” (fifty-one times). [62] Significantly less frequently, Plato uses ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking; in this meaning it occurs twenty-nine times in all. From these twenty-nine occurrences, I would remove two (Protagoras 320c, Symposium 193b) that I have argued elsewhere appear, together with other distinctive generic features, simply to conjure or evoke fable. [63] Of the remaining twenty-seven occurrences, they are distributed among the same three related but distinct contexts I have identified in Xenophon: (1) in rapid-fire exchange between two [8 occurrences]; (2) for a hypothetical aggressive, heckling question [4 occurrences]; and (3) for a new speaker claiming the discursive “floor” among multiple participants [15 occurrences]. Of all these different meanings, the function of ὑπολαμβάνω to signify turn-taking in multi-speaker dialogue bulks the largest in Plato’s usage—appropriately enough, since in this meaning it serves dialectical as well as mimetic effects. And again, as in Xenophon, many of these twenty-seven uses occur in contexts where there is an edge to the exchange—a hint of aggression, an argumentative challenge, an imagined decisive objection. For this very reason, ὑπολαμβάνω in speech formulae occurs most frequently in the Republic and the Euthydemus (seven times each); in the former, often for the rigorous, no-holds-barred exchanges with the intellectually restless and demanding brothers Glaucon and Adeimantus; in the latter, for the aggressive verbal sniping of another pair of brothers, those masters of eristic, Euthydemus and Dionysodorus. [64] These effects are particularly intense in the Euthydemus (which is, of course, much shorter than the Republic). And so, because the Euthydemus offers us a spectacular laboratory for the study of a highly elaborated vocabulary of aggressive speech interactions in the wild, in their native habitat (as it were), I will defer extended discussion of this snarky and hilarious dialogue to the last section of this essay. In the meantime, I will survey representative examples of the different uses of ὑπολαμβάνω in speech situations from other Platonic texts.
(1) First, what I take to be the primary, original meaning of ὑπολαβών … ἔφη in colloquial narrative contexts, especially in fable: the decisive or trumping answer by one interlocutor in a dialogue between two speakers. This meaning, which is recognizable in all the Herodotean usages, the bulk of those in Thucydides, and several in Xenophon, forms a relatively small number in Platonic usage—just four examples of this “pure” type unmixed with other effects. [65] Let us first consider an example from the Protagoras, which is part of this dialogue’s sly parodic representation of the great Sophist of the title. Early on in the dialogue, Socrates asks Protagoras in private what his young companion Hippocrates can expect to learn from the Sophist if he spends time with him (Protagoras 316b1–c2). Protagoras, clearly regarding this as too good an advertising opportunity to waste, insists on convening all the visitors to Callias’ house as an audience to their staged dialogue before he cues Socrates to pose his question again:
And I said, “This is my starting point, O Protagoras, the very one [I mentioned] just now, concerning which I have come. For Hippocrates here happens to be eager for your company. He says that he would be glad to learn what will happen to him then, if he keeps company with you. Such is our speech at any rate.
Protagoras then took it up and said (ὑπολαβὼν οὖν ὁ Πρωταγόρας εἶπεν·), “O young man, it will befall you, if you keep company with me, on the day you start keeping company with me, to go away home having become better, and the same thing the next day. And every day you will advance incrementally to the better.”
And I heard this and said, “Well, Protagoras, this is nothing marvellous you say, but reasonable, since even you, at your age and wise as you are, would become better if someone taught you something you didn’t know already.”
Protagoras 318a1–b4
And Socrates proceeds to explain to Protagoras that he wants a more substantive answer, on the model of, “From Zeuxippus, one would learn painting” (Protagoras 318b4–d4).
The implication of ὑπολαβών … εἶπεν is that Protagoras imagines that his grand-sounding but ultimately empty answer (“You will become better every day”), with its magnificent prospect of future days rolling out, will be enough and will simply end the discussion. He is, I would suggest, genuinely surprised when Socrates is not satisfied with this answer but presses him for more concrete details of his educational program. Even so, utterly confident in his ability to dominate any dialogue, Protagoras responds magnanimously (if a little patronizingly) to Socrates’ challenge:
And Protagoras, when he heard these things from me, said, “O Socrates, you are an excellent questioner, and I really enjoy answering those who question well …”
Protagoras 318d5–7
And so, more or less against Protagoras’ initial intent and expectation, the dialogue as a whole unspools.
In a second example in Republic 10, Socrates offers a hypothetical, trumping response at the end of a dialectical sequence of question and answer with Glaucon, on the relation of a mimetic artist (specifically a painter) to the realm of human craftsmanship:
I suppose the thing we have to remember in all these cases is this. When someone tells us, in any particular context, that he has met a man who has knowledge of all these crafts, and of all the things each individual practitioner of them can know, and that this man’s knowledge is in every respect more accurate than anyone else’s, we should respond to such a man that he is some sort of simpleton, who has apparently come across a magician and imitator, and been taken in by him (ὑπολαμβάνειν δεῖ τῷ τοιούτῳ ὅτι εὐήθης τις ἄνθρωπος, καί, ὡς ἔοικεν, ἐντυχὼν γόητί τινι καὶ μιμητῇ ἐξηπατήθη). He has decided this man is an expert, because he himself is incapable of distinguishing knowledge from ignorance or imitation.
Republic 598c6–d5, trans. Griffith and Ferrari 2000:317, slightly modified
The verb ὑπολαμβάνω here marks the bluntly abusive and decisive answer that Socrates and Glaucon would together deliver to their hypothetical naïve interlocutor; thus note especially Socrates’ use of εὐήθης to characterize this interlocutor as a “simpleton.” At the same time, this passage provides a good example of one striking feature of ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking in Plato: this verb is never applied directly to Socrates in his own person in real dialogue. Presumably, it is simply too snarky, aggressive, or competitive to characterize the speech of Socrates as the ideal conversationalist. Instead, Socrates uses it (as here) only in hypothetical contexts and imagined exchanges.
(2) And this feature in turn leads nicely into my second category: ὑπολαμβάνω used to introduce a hypothetical heckling question. This usage occurs four times in all in Plato—three times in speeches of Socrates and once in that of the Athenian stranger in the Laws—and in all cases (as in Xenophon) with ὑπολαμβάνω as a finite verb rather than a participle with a verb of speaking. [66] Thus, for example, in the Apology, after Socrates’ preliminaries—his emphatic assertion that he will speak the truth, even if in his usual odd, humble style, and his reflection on the difficulty of successfully refuting old as well as new slanders about his supposed outlandish pursuits—he pauses for a bit of lively, imagined repartee:
But perhaps some one of you would ask in response (ὑπολάβοι ἂν οὖν τις ὑμῶν ἴσως·), “Well, Socrates, what is your business? From where have these slanders arisen for you? For if indeed you busy yourself with nothing more exceptional than the rest of men, then so great a reputation and report would not have arisen, if you weren’t doing something different from the many. Tell us then what it is, so that we don’t form a rash judgment about you.” And the speaker seems to me to say these things justly and I shall attempt to demonstrate what in the world this is which has created the name and the slander for me.
Apology 20c4–d3
This imagined exchange then leads directly to the heart of Socrates’ defense—that he possesses “human wisdom” precisely to the extent of knowing that he knows nothing, and that he will support this claim with the Delphic god himself as witness (Apology 20d4–21a). [67]
And, in case we had any doubt about the slightly hostile, hectoring tone of the anonymous questioner of the Apology, Socrates helpfully spells it out for us in the Gorgias. At one point early in the dialogue, Gorgias, pressed by Socrates to provide a definition of rhetoric, asserts that it is a technē “whose activity and proper sphere is through words” (Gorgias 450b9–c1). Socrates, dissatisfied with this definition, points out that there are many other technai whose activity and proper sphere are through words—for example, arithmetic, calculation, geometry, the art of playing board games, etc. (Gorgias 450d4–e2). After Gorgias reluctantly acknowledges that this is so, Socrates continues:
But I do not think that you want to call any of these rhetoric, although you have spoken thus in your definition, that rhetoric is a skill holding its proper sphere through speech. And someone could ask in response, if he wished to be captious in argument [68] (καὶ ὑπολάβοι ἄν τις, εἰ βούλοιτο δυσχεραίνειν ἐν τοῖς λόγοις), “Well then, O Gorgias, are you saying that arithmetic is rhetoric?” But I do not think that you want to say that either arithmetic or geometry is rhetoric.
Gorgias 450e4–9
Here, Socrates sets himself up as Gorgias’ argumentative ally, assisting him against the snide and forceful attack of an anonymous questioner. And that this is an aggressive, heckling question, Socrates makes perfectly clear by his parenthetic addition, “if he wished to give you a hard time/be annoying in argument” (εἰ βούλοιτο δυσχεραίνειν ἐν τοῖς λόγοις). Here Plato offers a metadiscursive gloss or commentary that is apt for all the occurrences of ὑπολαμβάνω in this meaning. [69]
(3) Finally, as I noted at the outset of this discussion of Plato, the usage of ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking that really gains prominence in Platonic dialogue (in contrast to that of fifth-century prose authors and Xenophon) is as a marker for a new speaker claiming the discursive floor in multiple-participant speech situations. This usage constitutes fifteen of the twenty-nine total occurrences of ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking in Plato. These “interventions” or “interpositions”—I do not think it appropriate to call them “interruptions”—either (3a) mark moments at which a third speaker intervenes to shut down discussion, or (3b) articulate points of sharp argumentative challenge or disagreement. In both these categories, the tone can range from cordial and amiable to downright hostile, but the discursive function of speech introduced by ὑπολαβὼν εἶπε consistently conforms to one of these two classes. (3a) corresponds to an extension of meaning we have already noted in Xenophon; (3b), I would contend, represents a new adaptation of the phrase by Plato. [70] I will consider examples of each of these two types in turn, focusing on the Republic. For, in the narrative and conversational development of the Republic, we seem to see this new shade of meaning or nuance emerge for ὑπολαμβάνω: rather than trumping or shutting down discussion entirely, the interventions or objections introduced by ὑπολαμβάνω significantly alter the style or content of the discussion—diverting the stream of argument, as it were, into a new channel. This shift in meaning seems entirely appropriate for Platonic dialogue as an open-ended form in contrast to the snappy closure of joke, fable, or anecdote. For the ideology of dialogue (at least) is that the dialectical search for truth never ends—it is just that paper and/or human energy and attention give out.
(3a) For an example of the first type of intervention by a new speaker who intends to shut down discussion (analogous to the instances we have surveyed in Xenophon), consider a moment in Republic 1. Here, Socrates has initiated an elenchos based on the old man Cephalus’ traditional definition of justice as “telling the truth and giving back to each man what one has gotten from him” (Republic 331b–4). Socrates has just proposed the hypothetical case that one should not return weapons entrusted to one to a man who is now crazy, nor should one tell him the truth. Cephalus is forced to agree, and Socrates springs the trap of the elenchos:
“So then, this isn’t the definition of justice—to speak the truth and render back whatever one takes.”
“It certainly is then, O Socrates,” said Polemarchus, taking it up (πάνυ μὲν οὖν, ἔφη, ὦ Σώκρατες, ὑπολαβὼν ὁ Πολέμαρχος), “at least if we should believe Simonides.”
“And indeed,” said Cephalus, “I hand over to you the discussion, since I now have to attend to the sacrifices.”
“Yes, for am I not your heir?”
“Certainly you are,” he said with a smile, as he went to the sacrifices.
Republic 331d2–9
Polemarchus leaps in, replacing his father with a heated counterattack on Socrates’ position. [71] Indeed, I would venture to suggest that the use of ἔφη…ὑπολαβών as an introductory formula here signifies that Polemarchus himself imagines that he is offering a decisive, trumping response, invoking the authority of Simonides just as his father had earlier quoted Pindar (Republic 331a2–10). But Polemarchus with his old-fashioned style of quoting traditional authorities is no match for newfangled Socratic dialectic, and he is soon caught in his turn in the coils of yet another refutation.
But as the Republic proceeds, and the old-fashioned interlocutors Cephalus and Polemarchus give way, first to the aggressive Sophists Thrasymachus and Clitophon, and then to the sharp, dialectically agile brothers Glaucon and Adeimantus, the nuances of the formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη shift as well (and this is my category [3b] above). Especially after Book 1, ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη comes to mark moments at which a new speaker takes the floor to offer a decisive objection—not in order to end discussion, but rather to alter significantly the trajectory of the conversation. This occurs first in Book 2, when Socrates in discussion with Adeimantus has been constructing in words an idyllic, small-scale, modest city. At this point, Glaucon intervenes with an objection:
And Glaucon took it up and said (καὶ ὁ Γλαύκων ὑπολαβὼν…ἔφη), “Without sauce, it seems, you make the men feast.”
Republic 372c2
The lack of “sauce” or “meat” (ὄψον) may seem a minor issue, but in fact it leads directly into Glaucon’s complaint that Socrates imagines “a city of pigs” (Republic 372d4), which in turn precipitates a fullscale revision of the imagined city on Socrates’ part. In just the same way at the beginning of Book 4, Adeimantus intervenes, when Socrates has just concluded a lengthy exchange with Glaucon about the education and proper lifestyle of the city’s guardians:
And Adeimantus took it up and said (καὶ ὁ Ἀδείμαντος ὑπολαβὼν … ἔφη), “O Socrates, how will you defend yourself if someone were to say that you have not made these men at all happy …?”
Republic 419a1–3
Adeimantus’ objection—or legal “accusation,” as he styles it—requires Socrates to engage in an extended dialectical consideration of the dangers presented by wealth and luxury to different contingents within the city and therefore to the city as a whole, before he can pronounce the “city in words” fully constructed at Republic 5.472d. ὑπολαμβάνω does this same kind of work at Republic 8.544b1 (its last occurrence in this meaning in the Republic). Here, ὑπέλαβε refers back to the complicated stage business at the beginning of Book 5 (449b–450a) by which Polemarchus and Adeimantus whisper together, object, and divert the course of discussion by demanding a full account of what Socrates means by his glancing reference to women and children being held in common.
Thus Plato’s Republic almost seems to stage or enact this significant development of meaning for the quotative formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη; as the dialogue progresses, we can track Plato’s adaptation of an old colloquial speech formula to the particular needs of narrating complex, open-ended “dramas of argumentation” involving multiple speakers in unpredictable configurations.
And indeed, I would contend that Xenophon’s and Plato’s adaptation of this formula had a significant impact on its usage in later Greek prose. In the wake of Plato and Xenophon, we find an explosion of uses, as ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε becomes a more high-status literary formula, and one especially at home in narrative depictions of conversation. [72] I do not have the space here for a comprehensive survey of all its occurrences in later Greek, but it is noteworthy that certain Greek imperial authors (especially Plutarch and Philostratus) frequently use the quotative formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε in ways that look markedly Platonic and/or Xenophontic. Of particular interest is the fact that Plutarch, who uses ὑπολαβών in speech formulae a total of seventy-three times (by my count) seems to use it in two distinctly different ways in his biographical works vs. his Platonic-style dialogues. In the former category (the Lives, as well as a couple of occurrences in the Sayings of the Spartans), ὑπολαβών occurs in what are essentially verbal Chreiai, always of a trumping response in a brief dialogue between two speakers (fourteen total uses). [73] In the latter category (in ten different Platonic-style dialogues), the formula instead consistently marks a new speaker claiming the discursive floor within a multi-speaker conversation, either to trump an earlier speaker and shut down discussion, or to offer a challenge/objection, or to turn or divert the course of discussion—all three uses recognizably Platonic (fifty-eight total uses). [74] From a survey of all these occurrences, I would argue that Plutarch, who was of course a keen and careful reader of Classical Greek literature, was following the lead of Xenophon (esp. Cyropaideia and Hieron), and perhaps also Herodotus, for his usage in his biographical writings, while he is emphatically imitating Plato for his usage in his philosophical multi-speaker dialogues. [75]
The Atticizing second-third-century writer Flavius Philostratus also favors the speech formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε for narratives of conversation (using it twenty-eight times in all), but he does not show the same complex Platonic adaptation of usage we find in Plutarch’s multi-speaker philosophical dialogues. The formula occurs once in the Lives of the Sophists (p. 485), and twice in Heroicus (11.5, 33.8), in all three cases in the context of verbal Chreiai, where one speaker cleverly and succinctly trumps another in a dialogue of two. But the formula really comes into its own in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana, where it occurs twenty-five times. [76] Here, it always occurs in a conversation between two interlocutors, sometimes of a trumping retort, but most often (apparently) simply meaning “respond in dialogue.” This usage, like that of Plutarch’s biographical works, I would characterize as Xenophontic (again, Apollonius seems mainly to be imitating the setting and style of Xenophon’s Cyropaideia and Hieron). [77]

III. Some Speculations on Etymology, or Dialogue as a Contact Sport

Now that we have surveyed the usage of ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking in fable and classical Greek prose, I would like to offer some etymological speculations on the semantics of this verb and its post-classical successor, ὑποτυγχάνω.
But first, we need to pause for a moment to consider the meaning of the Homeric hapax ὑποβλήδην, since, as I have noted, some Byzantine scholars and some moderns have connected this Iliadic hapax with the speech formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη. [78] The meaning of ὑποβλήδην at Iliad 1.292 (and likewise of ὑποβάλλειν at Iliad 19.80) was clearly already a problem and a topic of debate in antiquity, and has, to some extent, remained so. The most popular ancient theory, embraced by a majority of modern scholars, is that in these two Iliadic passages, these related forms refer to one speaker or group actively interrupting another. [79] And there are indeed very good reasons of sense and formulaic convention to support this interpretation; thus, for example, Deborah Beck notes how unusual it is that Achilles does not name or address Agamemnon in his speech in Book 1, while Elizabeth Minchin offers a sensitive reading of Agamemnon’s peevish appeal to the Achaeans not to interrupt him in Iliad 19. [80]
I am fully persuaded by these arguments, but there are several things that make the interpretation of ὑποβλήδην as “interrupting” somewhat more complicated: (1) In later Greek epic, ὑποβλήδην is used to signify a second speaker taking up the conversation and responding to a first, apparently without interruption. [81] (2) ὑποβλήδην in Iliad 1 also displays certain distinctive features we have noted for speeches introduced by ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε. Thus, note that Achilles’ brief, aggressive speech artfully picks up and turns against Agamemnon expressions that Agamemnon himself had used in his immediately preceding speech [82] , and that ὑποβλήδην introduces the final, decisive speech that shuts down any further discussion and so abruptly ends the assembly. (3) Babrius (probably second century CE) uses ὑποβλήδην just once, in his longest versified fable (Babrius 95) in exactly the same context where we would expect to find ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη or ὑποτυχών ἔφη in a prose fable—for the final trumping response of the fox to the stag, whereby she persuades the foolish stag to enter the lion’s den for a second time:
τῆς δ᾿ οὐκ ἐτρέφθη θυμός, ἀλλ᾿ ὑποβλήδην
“οὕτως ἀγεννής,” φησί, “καὶ φόβου πλήρης
πέφυκας; …”
Babrius 95.66–68 [83]
But [the fox’s] spirit was not turned, but she says decisively in response, “Are you by nature so ignoble and full of fear? ...”
All of this suggests that the ancients perceived an overlap in semantic spheres of the two verbs, and already espoused different interpretations of the meaning of the Iliad passage. For some (like Babrius), ὑποβλήδην … φησι was understood to be a poetic or epic equivalent of ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη, signifying not interruption but a final aggressive, trumping response in dialogue between two. In just the same way, the use of ὑποβλήδην by Apollonius Rhodius and Quintus of Smyrna suggests that they understood ὑποβλήδην in Iliad 1 to mean simply “in response” (without interruption), or perhaps (as Gottfried Hermann argued in 1834) as “responding with admonition/advice.” I am therefore inclined to accept that the terms ὑποβλήδην/ὑποβάλλειν do mean “interrupt” in the Iliad, but also to acknowledge that the later meaning of ὑποβλήδην is uncertain. [84] Nonetheless, given various ancient authors’ perception of an overlap in semantic sphere of these two terms, any etymological account offered of the semantics of ὑπολαμβάνω/ὑποτυγχάνω should also apply to ὑποβλήδην/ὑποβάλλω.
To take the preverb ὑπο- first: I would suggest that this preverb by itself in a whole series of compound verbs signifies response in dialogue. Oddly, I have not been able to find this meaning for the preverb ὑπο- acknowledged in the standard lexica and grammars, and yet the evidence for it seems clear and compelling. Consider the following sequence of phrases (listed in chronological order and with specification of the authors in which they occur):
ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε   Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Plato, Demosthenes, Hyperides, Machon, Aesopic fable
ὑπαρπάσας … εἶπε   Herodotus
ὑφαρπάσας … ἔφη   Plato Euthydemus
ὑποθωπεύσας … λέγει   Herodotus [1.30.3]
λέγειν ὑπομαλακιζομένους   Xenophon [Anabasis 2.1.14]
ὑποτυχών … ἔφη/εἶπε   Josephus, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Plutarch, the Suda, Aesopic fable
εἶπεν ὑπομειδιάσας   Aesopic fable (no. 284 Perry)
The overwhelming number of these phrases occur in dialogue between two speakers or two constituencies, and with the sole exception of the phrase in Xenophon’s Anabasis, they combine a coincidental aorist participle with a main verb of speaking. [85] I would contend that in all these instances, the preverb ὑπο- signifies “in answer, in response” in dialogue, so that the participle and main verb must be taken as a single semantic unit, signifying “said in answer/responded x-ingly.” Thus for example, in the passage from Xenophon’s Anabasis quoted above, the hapax ὑπομαλακίζομαι can hardly mean “to grow cowardly by degrees,” as it is glossed in LSJ. (As in, “others [ἄλλους] became gradually cowardly as they were speaking”?!) Instead it means that, in contrast to the named speakers Cleanor, Proxenus, and Theopompus, who have just offered resistant and defiant answers to Phalinus, some unnamed others “spoke gently or conciliatingly in answer.” [86] In like manner, in the famous encounter of Solon and Croesus, at the moment Solon launches into his response to Croesus’ question, “Who of mortals have you seen who is the most blessed?,” Herodotus characterizes his style of answering thus: Σόλων δὲ οὐδὲν ὑποθωπεύσας, ἀλλὰ τῷ ἐόντι χρησάμενος λέγει· (Herodotus 1.30.3). ὑποθωπεύσας here does not mean “delicately flatter,” as Powell glosses it in his Lexicon to Herodotus, evidently trying to capture the nuance added to the verb by the preverb ὑπο- (since, after all, what Croesus wants is not “delicate flattery,” but blatant flattery). [87] Instead, Herodotus’ words mean “Solon, not flattering him at all in response, but using only the truth, says ...”
The prefix ὑπο- already seems to bear this meaning in some occurrences in Homer. Thus, we might be tempted to cite the Homeric hapax ὑποβλήδην, used of Achilles “answering interruptingly” at Iliad 1.292, and the cognate verb ὑποβάλλειν (in the dialect form ὕββαλλειν) at Iliad 19.80. In the former instance, however, ὑποβλήδην is paired with the verb ἠμείβετο, so that the meaning “answer, respond” is already contained in the main verb. But if we can accept that ὑποβάλλειν at Iliad 19.80 does indeed mean “interrupt” (as I think it does), this offers a good parallel for ὑπο- meaning “respond” in dialogue. [88] There is also the question of the etymology and meaning of ὑποκρίνομαι in Homer. Albin Lesky in 1956 presented a cogent argument that ὑποκρίνομαι originally meant “interpret, explain” (a dream or omen)—a meaning that is common in Homer (e.g. Iliad 12.228, Odyssey 19.535, 555), and still recognizable in Herodotus (1.78, 1.91), and, in one instance, in Plato’s use of the derived noun ὑποκριτής (Timaeus 72b). From this meaning, “interpret in response to a dream or omen,” Lesky argued, the verb developed the meaning already in early hexameter “to answer, respond” simpliciter (e.g. Iliad 7.407, Odyssey 2.111, Homeric Hymn to Apollo 171). As for the ὑπο- in ὑποκρίνομαι, Lesky followed Schwyzer-Debrunner 1950, who explained it as deriving from the local sense of ὑπό as “unten hervor,” and therefore meaning “seine Meinung aus der Herzenstiefe, aus der Verborgenheit hervorgeben”; Chantraine in turn follows Schwyzer-Debrunner and Lesky in this interpretation. [89] Hermann Koller (1957) also accepted the main lines of Lesky’s argument (i.e. the semantic development from “interpret, explain” to “answer”), but challenged the Schwyzer-Debrunner interpretation of ὑπο-. Koller pointed out that, on Lesky’s account, the verb is used originally of a professional sign- or dream-interpreter who is precisely not the person directly affected, so that “interpret from the depths of his heart” is unlikely. Instead, Koller suggested that we understand ὑπο- in its other main sense of “‘Begleitung’ und ‘Vertretung’,” so that the verb originally meant “interpret on behalf of another” (his understanding of ὑπο-) and only eventually came to be reinterpreted to mean “answer.” In addition, as all those who have written on ὑποκρίνομαι agree, the verb is entirely or almost entirely confined to Ionic in the meaning “answer” (the equivalent Attic verb being ἀποκρίνομαι). [90]
But, whichever interpretation we accept of the original force of ὑπο-, once the reinterpretation of the verb occurs, the ὑπο- preverb of ὑποκρίνομαι might itself have been reinterpreted to mean “in response, in answer.” And while we have seen that the preverb ὑπο- in this meaning is broadly diffused in Attic, at least in the phrase ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη (e.g. Thucydides, Xenophon, Plato, Demosthenes, Hypereides), it is possible that this meaning developed first in Ionic (Homer, Herodotus, Aesopic fable) and thence spread to Attic. [91]
So much for the ὑπο- of ὑπολαμβάνω and ὑποτυγχάνω. But if ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη means “responded x-ingly,” what’s the x? If we consider the second elements, λαμβάνω, τυγχάνω, and ἁρπάζω (in the case of the even more aggressive verbal intervention signified by ὑφαρπάζω in Herodotus and Plato), what all of them have in common is the idea of catching, seizing, or hitting a target. Thus I would suggest that the second element in these compounds expresses the “catch” or “connect” of a decisive rejoinder in aggressive verbal dueling, whether we imagine that “catch” to be “catching” at the opponent’s words or successfully striking/hitting the opponent himself. [92] If this is the correct etymology, the semantics of these compounds are akin to those of English “punchline,” or the exclamation “gotcha” used colloquially to register a successful practical joke. I would therefore suggest the translation “responded trumpingly” or “responded with the punchline,” at least for the Aesopic and Herodotean uses of ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη.

IV. Euthydemus: How to Do (Mean) Things with Words

I have reserved consideration of Plato’s Euthydemus for the end of this discussion, for two reasons. First, because this dialogue offers what is perhaps the most concentrated and intense sequence of uses of ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη within aggressive, competitive conversation and does so as part of a rich lexicon of technical terms for verbal dueling, it seems worthwhile to survey all these terms together in their broader context. Second, the dialogue’s narrative frame of Socrates reproducing the entire conversation after the fact for the skeptical Crito gives Plato the opportunity to elaborate a whole sequence of images that offer a vivid and incisive metadiscursive commentary on this kind of competitive verbal exchange. That is to say, Socrates’ baroque and self-conscious imagery of conversation as a violent contact sport provides something of a native informant’s “thicker description” for a Greek ethnography of speaking. I will consider each of these aspects in turn.
The phrase ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη occurs seven times in this brief dialogue, making it by far the most concentrated sequence in all of Plato. Derek Collins has observed the frequency of occurrence of ὑπολαμβάνω as a verb of speaking in the Euthydemus, as well as its co-occurrence with other technical terms for competitive verbal exchange. In an argument from which I have already quoted at the beginning of this discussion, he notes:
Plato felt a kinship between dialectic, dialogue, and other competitive performance genres like rhapsodic exchange and stichomythia that involve live, extemporaneous speaking … For Plato, rhetorical performance and oratorical debate are intimately connected to competitive poetic performance … [93]
Collins is certainly right to emphasize the competitive quality of verbal exchanges in the Euthydemus, but I would contend that it is a mistake to limit Plato’s sources and influences to the performance of poetic genres. We must also reckon with low colloquial prose forms like fable and other popular oral narratives, and in the case of the formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη, these are much more likely to be Plato’s inspiration than the orderly rotation of rhapsodes performing at the Panathenaia. [94]
Three times ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη marks the response of an interlocutor in a dialogue of two, while its four other occurrences flag the intervention of a third speaker, claiming the discursive floor either to trump and shut down a line of argument or to divert it. [95] And with a single exception, all these uses of ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη are sharp and aggressive. [96] Thus, this quotative formula first appears when Dionysodorus is giving Socrates his first demonstration of the brothers’ newfangled, foolproof method of sophistic refutation. [97] Having elicited from Socrates the affirmation that he wishes the boy Clinias “to become wise,” through a series of linguistic permutations produced by restrictive questions, Dionysodorus leads Socrates to the bare assertion that in fact he wishes Clinias “no longer to be” (μηκέτι εἶναι). As Socrates reacts with confusion, Dionysodorus concludes triumphantly,
But as I was thrown into confusion, he took it up and said (ὁ δέ μου θορυβουμένου ὑπολαβὼν … ἔφη), “Well now, to be sure, since you wish him who is now to be no longer, you wish him, it seems, to perish. And yet, such friends and admirers would be precious indeed, who would consider it of the greatest importance that the boy who is the object of their admiration perish utterly.”
Euthydemus 283d4–8
Here ὑπολαβών functions just as it does in Herodotus and in fable, to mark the final response of an interlocutor in a dialogue of two by which he trumps his opponent and shuts down discussion. In the same way, when Dionysodorus has been conducting an argument with Ctesippus to prove that because Ctesippus has a dog that has puppies and he has a father, the dog is his father and the puppies his brothers, Dionysodorus intervenes at the end of the sequence before Ctesippus has a chance to answer his last question, interposing a final devastating question:
And Dionysodorus took it up again, quickly, before Ctesippus could say anything [more] (καὶ αὖθις ταχὺ ὑπολαβὼν ὁ Διονυσόδωρος, ἵνα μὴ πρότερόν τι εἴποι ὁ Κτήσιππος), and said, “Well answer me one more little question: do you beat your dog?” And Ctesippus laughed and said, “Yes, by the gods, since I can’t beat you.” “Then do you beat your own father?” he said.
Euthydemus 298e6–10
Three more times, the phrase occurs with a change of speaker at the decisive, clinching moment of argument, as the two brothers Euthydemus and Dionysodorus work together as a kind of eristic tag-team. [98] A good example is 298b1, where Dionysodorus has been developing an argument with Socrates about fathers and brothers, demonstrating that there is a logical contradiction if Socrates’ brother Patrocles is also “other than his brother” (because not by the same father), or his father Sophroniscus is “other than a father” (because not the father of Patrocles, who is the son of Chaeredemus; Euthydemus 297e1–298a9). At this point, Euthydemus intervenes to deliver the argumentative coup de grâce:
“For if indeed Chaeredemus is a father,” said Euthydemus, taking it up (ἔφη … ὑπολαβών ὁ Εὐθύδημος), “then in turn Sophroniscus, being other than a father, is not a father, so that you, O Socrates, are fatherless.”
Euthydemus 298b1–3
This is a moment where the argument goes just as the brothers Dionysodorus and Euthydemus wish, but on a couple other occasions, they are outmaneuvered by Socrates’ dialectical skill. At these junctures, ὑπολαβών marks the trading off from one brother to another not to shut down an argument entirely, but to change the rules of engagement or shift the topic. Thus early on, Socrates lures both brothers into an argument, versions of which he says he has heard in the past from “those around Protagoras and others even older” (Euthydemus 286c2–3). Since Dionysodorus has claimed to Ctesippus that there is no such thing as refutation (ἀντιλέγειν), Socrates leads the brothers on to affirm that therefore there is no such thing as lying or false opinion or ignorance or doing wrong of any kind. At this point, Socrates is conducting the conversation with Euthydemus, and now he springs the trap:
“This is just where my vulgar question comes in,” I said. “If no one of us makes mistakes either in action or in speech or in thought—if this really is the case—what in heaven’s name do you two come here to teach? Or didn’t you say just now that if anyone wanted to learn virtue, you would impart it best?”
“Really, Socrates,” said Dionysodorus, taking it up (ἔφη … ὁ Διονυσόδωρος ὑπολαβών), “Are you such an old Cronus as to bring up now what we said in the beginning? I suppose if I said something last year, you will bring that up now and still be helpless in dealing with the present argument.”
Euthydemus 287a6–b5, trans. Sprague 1997:724, slightly modified
Here Dionysodorus interposes, resorting to simple abuse to short-circuit this damning line of argument, and then insisting that the brothers should not be held accountable for things they had said earlier. [99] When this does not put Socrates off, Dionysodorus attempts to shift the ground of argument entirely by latching onto Socrates’ phrase “what else does this argument intend to say” (τί σοι ἄλλο νοεῖ τοῦτο τὸ ῥῆμα), also at this point changing the rules of engagement by insisting that Socrates answer a new question before he (Dionysodorus) has answered Socrates (Euthydemus 287b6–d6).
In like manner at 297, Socrates is just about to entrap Dionysodorus into a fatal contradiction by the brothers’ own method, when we get a very interesting bit of byplay:
“You are ruining the argument,” said Euthydemus to Dionysodorus, “and this fellow here will turn out to be not knowing, and then he will be knowing and not knowing at the same time.” And Dionysodorus blushed.
“But you,” I said, “what do you say, Euthydemus? Your all-knowing brother doesn’t appear to be making a mistake, does he?”
“Am I a brother of Euthydemus?” said Dionysodorus, quickly taking it up (ἔφη … ταχὺ ὑπολαβὼν ὁ Διονυσόδωρος).
And I said, “Let that pass, my good friend, until Euthydemus instructs me as to how I know that good men are unjust, and don’t begrudge me this piece of information.”
“You’re running away, Socrates,” said Dionysodorus, “and refusing to answer.”
Euthydemus 297a5–b8, trans. Sprague 1997:735, slightly modified
Here Euthydemus (the sharper brother [100] ) recognizes that Dionysodorus is headed for trouble and warns him. When Socrates tries to engage Euthydemus on the same argumentative trajectory, Dionysodorus again aggressively intervenes, trying to latch onto Socrates’ mention of “brother” to shift to an entirely new argument.
At all these moments, the appearance of ὑπολαβών in fact articulates a ratcheting-up of the level of aggression. Thus it is noteworthy that in the passage quoted just above, it is not used for Euthydemus’ intervention with his brother (although his words cause Dionysodorus to blush), but only of one or the other brother’s aggressive interventions against Socrates or Ctesippus (the opposing “team” in their verbal battle). Level of hostility or argumentative violence, I would suggest, is also what distinguishes ὑπολαβών in all the instances I’ve considered from the more neutral ἐκδεξάμενος, which occurs of a new speaker taking up the argument three times in the dialogue (276c2, 277b4, 286b4). Indeed, as the Euthydemus continues, the conversation becomes progressively more heated, emotionally charged, and aggressive, and this too is registered by Plato’s different quotative formulae. Thus ἐκδεξάμενος occurs more toward the beginning of the dialogue (two of three occurrences at 276c2, 277b4), while uses of ὑπολαβών cluster more toward the end (four of seven occurrences at 294b11, 297c2, 298b1, 298e6). By 300, we find an even greater escalation of hostility, marked in turn by a different quotative formula. At this point in the dialogue, the hotheaded Ctesippus is engaged in a snarky, rapid-fire exchange with both brothers that turns on paradoxes of speaking and silence. Socrates here even confides parenthetically to the frame narratee Crito that “Ctesippus seemed to me to be very keyed up (ὑπεραγωνιᾶν) on account of [the presence of] the boy he admired” (Euthydemus 300c1). Ctesippus now demands of Euthydemus, with whom he has been engaged most recently, that he answer the question “are all things silent or do they speak?,” when Dionysodorus intervenes to deliver what he imagines is the argumentative coup de grâce:
“Neither and both,” Dionysodorus snatched it up and said (ἔφη ὑφαρπάσας ὁ Διονυσόδωρος·), “for I’m confident that you will not be able to make any use of this answer.”
And Ctesippus, having given out a great laugh in his usual way, said, “O Euthydemus, your brother has put the argument on both sides, and it is destroyed and beaten.” And Clinias was entirely delighted and laughed, so that Ctesippus swelled up to more than ten times his size. And it seemed to me that Ctesippus, being the scoundrel that he is (ἅτε πανοῦργος ὤν), had overheard these very things from these very men; for such wisdom does not exist in any other men of the present day.
Euthydemus 300d1–9
In fact, Dionysodorus has blundered again in the heat of argument and set the brothers up for refutation by contradiction, as Ctesippus immediately points out in his gloating address to Euthydemus. And as Socrates notes, Ctesippus has beaten the two brothers by turning against them their own techniques of argument. But what I want to call attention to in this passage is the use of the phrase ἔφη ὑφαρπάσας in exactly the same context and with the same semantics that we would expect from ἔφη ὑπολαβών—marking the moment a new speaker intervenes to claim the discursive floor and cap the argument. From this we may conclude two things: that ὑφαρπάσας signifies even more aggressive verbal sniping than ὑπολαβών [101] , while this substitution in turn strongly suggests that the semantics of the second elements of these verbal compounds were still palpable at the time Plato was writing.
Finally, I would suggest that Plato’s elaborate imagery throughout the dialogue confirms this second conclusion, while the imagery itself interacts with the different quotative formulae to contribute to the sense of escalating violence or verbal aggression as the conversation unfolds. To take the second point first: the very first time the participle ἐκδεξάμενος occurs to signify the trading-off in argument between the two brothers, it follows immediately after Socrates’ introduction of the image of a chorus for the sophistic brothers and their admiring entourage. At the conclusion of the first verbal skirmish between Euthydemus and the boy Clinias, we are told:
And when [Euthydemus] said these things, just like a chorus at a signal from their director (ὥσπερ ὑπὸ διδασκάλου χορὸς ἀποσημήναντος), those followers who were with Dionysodorus and Euthydemus applauded and laughed. And before the youth could well and truly catch his breath, Dionysodorus, having received it in turn, said (ἐκδεξάμενος … ἔφη), “Well then, O Clinias, whenever the writing-master would give you dictation, which boys would learn the things dictated, the wise or the ignorant?”
Euthydemus 276b6–c5
Socrates then continues and elaborates the imagery of dance almost immediately as his narrative proceeds:
And Euthydemus, recognizing that we were struck with amazement, in order that we marvel at him still more, was not letting the youth go, but was asking him—and, just as good dancers do it—was giving a double twist to his questions concerning the same thing (καὶ ὥσπερ οἱ ἀγαθοὶ ὀρχησταί, διπλᾶ ἔστρεφε τὰ ἐρωτήματα περὶ τοῦ αὐτοῦ), saying, “Those who learn—do they learn what they [already] know or what they don’t know?”
Euthydemus 276d3–8
Here Euthydemus nimbly emerges as a virtuoso soloist from the choral throng of his admirers, giving the argument a double twist like some complex dance-step. [102] And very soon he is joined in the spotlight by his brother Dionysodorus:
“Then you did not answer correctly,” [Euthydemus] said.
And Euthydemus had barely said this, when Dionysodorus, having taken up the argument like a ball, was aiming it at the youth again (καὶ ὁ Διονυσόδωρος ὥσπερ σφαῖραν ἐκδεξάμενος τὸν λόγον πάλιν ἐστοχάζετο τοῦ μειρακίου), saying, “Euthydemus is deceiving you, O Clinias ...”
Euthydemus 277b2–7
A whole complex of terms here irresistibly evokes the virtuoso dance performance of the Phaeacians Halius and Laodamas in Odyssey 8 (an evocation that itself tends to confirm that all Socrates’ separate imagistic elements of dance and ballplaying are meant to be taken together). [103] We recall that in Odyssey 8, immediately after an elaborate choral dance, the two royal brothers Halius and Laodamas are bidden by their father Alcinous to perform alone, “since no one vied with them”:
οἱ δ᾿ ἐπεὶ οὖν σφαῖραν καλὴν μετὰ χερσὶν ἕλοντο
πορφυρέην—τήν σφιν Πόλυβος ποίησε δαΐφρων—
τὴν ἕτερος ῥίπτασκε ποτὶ νέφεα σκιόεντα
ἰδνωθεὶς ὀπίσω· ὁ δ᾿ ἀπὸ χθονὸς ὑψόσ᾿ ἀερθεὶς
ῥηϊδίως μεθέλεσκε, πάρος ποσὶν οὖδας ἱκέσθαι.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ σφαίρῃ ἀν᾿ ἰθὺν πειρήσαντο,
ὀρχείσθην δὴ ἔπειτα ποτὶ χθονὶ πουλυβοτείρῃ
ταρφέ᾿ ἀμειβομένω· κοῦροι δ᾿ ἐπελήκεον ἄλλοι
ἑσταότες κατ᾿ ἀγῶνα, πολὺς δ᾿ ὑπὸ κόμπος ὀρώρει.
Odyssey 8.372–380
And they, when they had taken hold of the beautiful ball with their hands—a purple one, which skilled Polybos made for them—one of them kept throwing it up to the shadowy clouds, having bent his body back, while the other one, leaping high from the ground, kept catching it in his turn, easily, before he reached the ground with his feet. But when they had made trial of each other with the ball straight up [in the air], then indeed the two of them danced on the fertile earth, exchanging positions constantly back and forth. And the rest of the young men were beating time, standing around the assembly place, and a great roar rose in accompaniment.
Both the context and Plato’s explicit metadiscursive image ὥσπερ σφαῖραν ἐκδεξάμενος τὸν λόγον make absolutely clear the semantic or conceptual sphere from which the participle ἐκδεξάμενος is borrowed: as E. H. Gifford noted long ago, it is “a metaphor from catching a ball or anything passed from hand to hand.” [104] But Plato has also introduced one significant divergence from his Odyssean model that gives a sudden darker nuance to the image: rather than just artfully passing the ball back and forth while twisting, leaping, and dancing, the sophistic brothers make it into a weapon by aiming it at the hapless youth Clinias. [105]
The same progressive darkening of the image occurs again when Socrates, attempting to encourage the shaken Clinias, likens the two Sophists to Corybants who dance and play wildly around an initiand before finally initiating him into their rites. In just the same way, he suggests, the brothers are first playfully engaging in facetious arguments, before they are ready to reveal their “serious” sophia to the boy:
Don’t be surprised, Clinias, if these arguments seem strange to you, since perhaps you don’t take in what the visitors are doing with you. They are doing exactly what people do in Corybantic mysteries when they enthrone a person they intend to initiate (ποιεῖτον δὲ ταὐτὸν ὅπερ οἱ ἐν τῇ τελετῇ τῶν Κορυβάντων, ὅταν την θρόνωσιν ποιῶσιν περὶ τοῦτον ὃν ἂν μέλλωσι τελεῖν). If you have been initiated you know that there is dancing and sport on these occasions; and now these two are doing nothing except dancing around you and making sportive leaps with a view to initiating you presently (καὶ νῦν τούτω οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἢ χορεύετον περὶ σὲ καὶ οἷον ὀρχεῖσθον παίζοντε, ὡς μετὰ τοῦτο τελοῦντε). So you must now imagine yourself to be hearing the first part of the sophistic mysteries.
Euthydemus 277d4–e3, trans. Sprague 1997:714
Notice first that, already with the image of Corybants, there is a hint that the brothers’ verbal “dancing” has become wilder, less structured, and perhaps a bit dangerous. [106] But Socrates then goes further in the course of the same speech:
These things are the frivolous part of study (which is why I also tell you that the men are jesting); and I call these things “frivolity” because even if a man were to learn many or even all such things, he would be none the wiser as to how matters stand but would only be able to make fun of people, tripping them up and overturning them by means of the distinctions in words, just like the people who pull the stool out from under a man who is going to sit down and then laugh gleefully when they see him sprawling on his back (ὥσπερ οἱ τὰ σκολύθρια τῶν μελλόντων καθιζήσεσθαι ὑποσπῶντες χαίρουσι καὶ γελῶσιν, ἐπειδὰν ἴδωσιν ὕπτιον ἀνατετραμμένον). So you must think of their performance as having been mere play. But after this they will doubtless show you serious things, if anyone will, and I shall give them a lead to make sure they hand over what they promised me.
Euthydemus 278b2–c5, trans. Sprague 1997:715
Here the “enthronement” (θρόνωσις) of the initiand unnervingly morphs into the “stool” (σκολύθρια) yanked out from under the unsuspecting butt of a practical joke, as dance and play (παιδιά, παίζοντε) turn into mean-spirited and potentially harmful “mockery” and “practical joking” (προσπαίζειν). [107]
And if the quotative formula ἐκδεξάμενος ἔφη is closely aligned with the imagery of dancing and the skillful passing of a ball in these early exchanges, the phrases ὑπολαβών and ὑφαρπάσας ἔφη seem to be more intimately associated with boxing, wrestling, and other violent bodily attacks as the dialogue progresses. Of course, when Socrates first introduces the brothers to Crito in the frame narrative, he characterizes them as consummate pancratiasts (“all-in fighters”) in words as well as in body, “skilled to fight in arguments and to refute whatever is said on each occasion” (οὕτω δεινὼ γεγόνατον ἐν τοῖς λόγοις μάχεσθαί τε καὶ ἐξελέγχειν τὸ ἀεὶ λεγόμενον, Euthydemus 272a8–b1). [108] But even so, the imagery of wrestling, grappling, and punching in argument only properly develops after the first flurry of dance imagery, and it also becomes progressively more gruesome and violent as the dialogue continues. Thus Socrates first intervenes to encourage Clinias when he perceives Euthydemus “preparing to throw the boy for his third wrestling fall” (ἐπὶ τὸ τρίτον καταβαλῶν ὥσπερ πάλαισμα ὥρμα ὁ Εὐθύδημος τὸν νεανίσκον) at 277d1–2, while he criticizes the brothers that their own argument “falls itself as it knocks another down” (καταβαλὼν πίπτειν) at 288a4. In addition, at the end of his speech of encouragement to Clinias, Socrates tells Crito that he was observing carefully to see “how [the brothers] might lay hold of [lit. fasten onto] the argument” (τίνα ποτε τρόπον ἅψοιντο τοῦ λόγου, Euthydemus 283a3). And, in a dialogue rife with mythological allusions and comparisons, it is surely significant that Socrates likens the two brothers to “Proteus, the Egyptian Sophist” at 288bc. This allows him to suggest that their elusive, shape-shifting arguments have something of magic in them, but also to exhort Ctesippus to follow the example of Menelaus and just hang on, fastening his opponents in an unbreakable wrestling hold until they are willing to reveal their serious arguments.
All this imagery is drawn from wrestling, but other images of bodily abuse and mutilation attend the brothers’ ongoing performances in argument. So, for example, Socrates declares that he hands himself over to Dionysodorus, “just as to [the famous] Medea of Colchis. Let him destroy me and, if he wishes, boil me, and whatever [else] he wishes, do this [too]. Only let him show me forth as good” (Euthydemus 285c3–6). With Medea, Socrates again suggests magic or sorcery, alluding to the Colchian witch’s famous deception of the daughters of Pelias. Promising them a special potion to rejuvenate their father, Medea persuades the well-meaning daughters to chop their father in pieces and boil him in a cauldron. Ctesippus immediately reciprocates with his own, equally gruesome, mythological comparison:
“I too, O Socrates, am prepared to furnish myself to the strangers, even if they want to flay me still more than they flay me now, as long as my hide will end up not as a wineskin, like Marsyas’, but as a piece of virtue.”
Euthydemus 285c7–d1
Within this playful mythological imagery lurks the threat of bodily dissolution, as Dionysodorus and Euthydemus are imagined to chop their interlocutors in pieces and skin them alive. [109]
Finally, (since I cannot discuss all the imagery that permeates this richly textured dialogue), let us consider just the last bit—the last verbal duel Socrates narrates and his concluding observations to Crito. In this last exchange, the brothers force Socrates to concede that, because his household gods are “his,” he can give them away, sell them, or even sacrifice them at will. Socrates punctuates his narration of this shockingly impious argument with yet more images of physical capture and violence. So first, when Socrates begins to suspect where the argument is leading, he tells Crito, “I began to make a hopeless effort to escape, twisting just as if already caught in a net” (ἄπορόν τινα στροφὴν ἔφευγόν τε καὶ ἐστρεφόμην ἤδη ὥσπερ ἐν δικτύῳ εἰλημμένος, Euthydemus 302b6–7). Then, at the moment Euthydemus poses the crowning impious question of this exchange to Socrates, the latter tells Crito, “I lay speechless, just as if struck a blow by the argument” (ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν, ὦ Κρίτων, ὥσπερ πληγεὶς ὑπὸ τοῦ λόγου, ἐκείμην ἄφωνος, Euthydemus 303a4–5). At this point, Ctesippus also gives up, noting that “these two men are unbeatable” (ἀμάχω τὼ ἄνδρε, Euthydemus 303a9). It is only left for Socrates, in a display of particularly vertiginous Socratic irony, to declare himself “utterly enslaved by the brothers’ wisdom” (καταδουλωθεὶς ὑπὸ τῆς σοφίας) and to congratulate them on (among other things) the ability of their paradoxical arguments to “stitch up the mouths of men” (συρράπτετε τὰ στόματα τῶν ἀνθρώπων) as well as their own (Euthydemus 303c2–e4). [110]
And yet, as Wolfgang Mann has recently emphasized, the dialogue goes to some trouble in the final framing exchange of Socrates and Crito to insist that the argumentative training the sophistic brothers purvey is not entirely without value. [111] For here, after recounting the whole conversation, Socrates urges Crito to join him in enrolling to study with Euthydemus and Dionysodorus. Crito expresses grave doubts about the value of such study, confessing to Socrates that he has already heard one account of their extended conversation from “a man who thinks himself entirely wise, one of those who is clever concerning speeches to the lawcourts” (304d5–6), though as it emerges, he is no rhetor and never enters the lawcourts himself (305c1–4). This self-satisfied logographer (who is generally taken by modern scholars to be Isocrates [112] ) dismisses the extended conversation Socrates has just narrated as “the sorts of things one would always hear from such men talking nonsense and expending a lot of unworthy effort over worthless matters” (οἷάπερ ἀεὶ ἄν τις τῶν τοιούτων ἀκούσαι ληρούντων καὶ περὶ οὐδενὸς ἀξίων ἀναξίαν σπουδὴν ποιουμένων, 304e3–5). When Crito, startled by his vehemence, asks, “But still, even so, isn’t philosophy a lovely pursuit?,” the logographer’s response drips contempt:
What ‘lovely,’ my good man! It’s worth nothing. But if you also had been there, I think that you would have been entirely ashamed on behalf of your comrade. He was so strange as to be willing to furnish himself to men who don’t care at all what they say, but they cling to [latch onto] every word (παντὸς δὲ ῥήματος ἀντέχονται). And these, the very thing I was saying just now, are the mightiest among those now. But in fact, O Crito, he said, the pursuit itself and the men who spend time in [this] pursuit are base and laughable (τὸ πρᾶγμα αὐτὸ καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ ἐπὶ τῷ πράγματι διατρίβοντες φαῦλοί εἰσιν καὶ καταγέλαστοι).
Euthydemus 304e7–5a8
Socrates, after his consistent (if occasionally barbed) effusions about the wondrous wisdom of the sophistic brothers, is scathing on the subject of this smug logographer, in an effort to defend “the thing itself” (philosophy) against his scornful dismissal. Thus he characterizes the man as one of those
whom Prodicus describes as occupying the no-man’s-land between the philosopher and the statesman. They think that they are the wisest of men, and that they not only are but also seem to be so in the eyes of a great many, so that no one else keeps them from enjoying universal esteem except the followers of philosophy. Therefore, they think that if they place these persons in the position of appearing to be worth nothing, then victory in the contest for the reputation of wisdom will be indisputably and immediately theirs, and in the eyes of all. They think they really are the wisest, and whenever they are intercepted in private conversation, they are cut off by Euthydemus and his ilk (ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἰδίοις λόγοις ὅταν ἀποληφθῶσιν, ὑπὸ τῶν ἀμφὶ Εὐθύδημον κολούεσθαι). They regard themselves as very wise, and reasonably so, since they think they are not only pretty well up in philosophy but also in politics. Yes, their conceit of wisdom is quite natural because they think they have as much of each as they need; and, keeping clear of both risk and conflict, they reap the fruits of wisdom (ἐκτὸς δὲ ὄντες κινδύνων καὶ ἀγώνων καρποῦσθαι τὴν σοφίαν).
Euthydemus 305c6–e2, transl. Sprague 1997:744, slightly modified
Socrates goes on to argue that such men are in fact inferior to both philosophers and statesmen and “while they are actually in third place, they seek to seem to be first” (306c5).
What I want to call attention to in Socrates’ decisive put-down of the logographer is the persistence of the imagery of physical violence for the action of logoi. Thus in contrast to the logographer’s trivializing sneer that such men “batten onto every single word” (παντὸς δὲ ῥήματος ἀντέχονται), Socrates represents the dynamics of the confrontation somewhat differently; in his version, the practitioners of a cultured and diffuse rhetoric (like Isocrates) are “intercepted” or “cut off” (ἀποληφθῶσιν) in private conversations—as if in an ambush or a hunt. Notice that this verb contains the same second element λαμβάνω as the speech formula ὑπολαβών, but in this instance, the “catch” of the verb is made even more violent and extreme by the prefix ἀπο-. And when that happens, those who consider themselves wise are “cut off” (κολούεσθαι); as Gifford notes, “The loose rhetoric that was uninterrupted in a forensic speech was easily refuted by the sharp dialectic of the Sophists.” [113] But it is worth attending to Socrates’ exact language here: κολούεσθαι is a rare verb that means literally “cut off, docked, or pruned” (and notice—it’s the men themselves, not their speeches, that suffer this indignity in Socrates’ formulation). Socrates’ conclusion then strongly implies that true sophia is not to be won without “dangers and contests”—the rough-and-tumble grappling with words in which the sophistic brothers Euthydemus and Dionysodorus excel.
Thus I want to suggest that the obsessive images of grasping, catching, beating, skinning, chopping up, and finally silencing and enslaving one’s opponent in argument spell out and clarify the semantics of the second elements λαμβάνω and ἁρπάζω in the compound verbs ὑπολαβών and ὑφαρπάσας as they are used in speech formulae throughout the dialogue. In this remarkably rich texture of imagery, Plato offers us a native informant’s vivid representation of aggressive verbal dueling as it was practiced in Greek culture and encoded in the lexicon of Greek speaking terms.

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[ back ] * With thanks for reading and commenting on earlier drafts of this paper to Jason Aftosmis, Egbert Bakker, GRF Ferrari, Mark Griffith, Boris Maslov, Donald Mastronarde, Lauri Reitzammer and Håkan Tell. And special thanks to Håkan Tell for inviting me to participate in this special issue of Classics@.
[ back ] 1. On the complexities of beginning narrative prose and/or fiction in other traditions, see Godzich and Kittay 1987, Spiegel 1993 on beginnings of French prose narrative; Somoff 2007 on the Russian tradition.
[ back ] 2. For the dialogue in epic and the stichomythia of tragedy and comedy as sources for the depiction of speech situations in Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plato, see (e.g.) Lang 1984:18–36, Hornblower 1991, 2008, Clay 1994, Collins 2004:44–53. For the social frame of sympotic or rhapsodic performance, see Nagy 2002:9–69, Collins 2004:52–53.
[ back ] 3. Aly (1921 and 1929) represents an important pioneer here, but he didn’t do enough with specific formal features; Karadagli 1981 occasionally notes borrowing of fable features in (e.g.) Herodotus, but doesn’t pursue or analyze the implications of such borrowing for the development of mimetic, narrative prose.
[ back ] 4. For an example of the latter approach, see Worman 2008.
[ back ] 5. LSJ s.v. ὑπολαμβάνω, I.3 and III; cf. Ast 1835–1838, s.v. ὑπολαμβάνω, meanings two and three. The occurrence of the word in this meaning seems to be almost entirely restricted to prose authors, with the exception of Euripides Iphigenia in Aulis 523.
[ back ] 6. Thus, in classical Greek prose: seven times in Herodotus (1.11.5, 1.27.4, 6.129.4, 6.139.4, 7.101.3, 7.147.3, 9.94.3); four times in Thucydides (2.72, 3.113, 5.49, 5.85); thirteen times in Xenophon (Anabasis 2.1.15, 3.1.26, 3.1.31, Cyropaideia 2.2.2, 4.1.19, 5.5.35, 6.1.37, Hellenica 6.1.7, Hieron 6.9, 8.1.1, 8.8.2, Memorabilia 2.1.29, Oeconomicus 10.4); once in the Old Oligarch (Constitution of the Athenians 3.12); twenty-nine times in Plato (Apology 20c, Euthydemus 283d4, 287b2, 289c9, 294b11, 297b2, 298b1, 298e6, Gorgias 450e, Laws 9.875d, Meno 74c, Phaedo 60c8, 64c3, 69e5, 72e3, 73a3, Protagoras 318a6, 320c5, 336b7, Republic 1.331d4, 1.340a3, 2.372c2, 4.419a1, 5.466d9, 8.544b1, 10.598d1, Symposium 176d5, 193b6, 194d1); twice in Aristotle (Rhetoric 2.23.3, 1397b5, On the Soul fr. 65 Gigon); four times in Demosthenes (19.46, 20.146, 22.10, 23.93); and once in Hyperides (Against Athenogenes 2.19). I have also found one occurrence in this meaning in poetry—in the Hellenistic, parodic Chreiai of Machon (line 216 Gow).
[ back ] 7. Eustathius (Commentarii ad Homeri Iliadem vol. 1, p. 106; p. 165 van der Valk) already seems to espouse the idea that ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη means “interrupt”; see his comment, added later, in a long note on ὑποβλήδην at Iliad 1.292. After suggesting that ὑποβλήδην means “interrupt,” Eustathius adds, ὡς δῆλον καὶ ἐκ τοῦ “ὑπολαβὼν δὲ ὁ δεῖνα ἔφη.” (I will return to this conflation or confusion of ὑποβλήδην and ὑπολαβὼν and consider it in more detail in Section III below.)
Among moderns, note that LSJ s.v. ὑπολαμβάνω I.3.b, cites just two passages in this meaning: Xenophon Anabasis 3.1.26 and Cyropaedeia 5.5.35; see discussion of these passages below, pp. 26 and 30–31. Thus correctly also Burnet 1911:15 (ad Plato Phaedo 60c8): “The meaning of ὑπολαμβάνειν is not ‘to interrupt’, but ‘to rejoin’ or ‘retort’.” In contrast, see A. Boeckh apud Hermann 1834:304, “suscepta oratione respondere alteri sive simpliciter sive interpellando”; des Places 1964 s.v. ὑπολαμβάνω (1) “interrompre, répliquer”; and translations—e.g. Warner’s (1954) translation of Thucydides; Crawley’s translation of Thucydides in Strassler 1996; Sprague’s translation of Plato Euthydemus in Cooper 1997. See also Minchin 2007:228–36, noting how difficult it is to represent conversational interruption in literary texts (unless we are given explicit cues to that effect by a speaker or the narrator), and therefore how rare it is in ancient Greek literature.
[ back ] 8. Nagy 2002:9–10 (quotation taken from p. 10); translation of Hipparchus 228b8–c1 also follows Nagy.
[ back ] 9. Cf. Nagy 2002:25: “The driving force of relay mnemonics is competition.”
[ back ] 10. Nagy 2002:9–69; for Plato’s appropriation of technical terminology of rhapsodic performance, see esp. pp. 25–32.
[ back ] 11. Collins 2004:52. Since Collins is specifically discussing Plato’s Euthydemus, I will return to his argument and consider it in more detail in the last section of this paper, which is devoted to a more sustained reading of this Platonic dialogue.
[ back ] 12. Indeed, the implication not just of response, but of aggressive response in dialogue is already suggested by the third alternative in the Suda entry on ὑπολαβών· ὑπονοήσας, ἢ ἀποκριθείς, ἢ ἀντειπών, ἀντικρούσας (4.672 Adler).
[ back ] 13. Thus Karadagli 1981:127–128; for specifics of the formula’s fable occurrences, see discussion below.
[ back ] 14. So we might note that one problem with the Nagy/Collins approach is that it looks only at Plato’s usage, but does not set that usage in the context of the chronological development of Greek prose—i.e., the development from dialogues of only two speakers or constituencies (the context of all occurrences in Herodotus and Thucydides) to multi-speaker situations where it signifies “turn-taking,” or going in succession (some occurrences in Xenophon and just over half of all occurrences in Plato).
[ back ] 15. These figures are based on Powell 1938 s.vv. ἀμείβω II, ἀποκρίνω II, ὑποκρίνομαι. Although ἀποκρίνομαι occurs twice in the mss of Herodotus meaning “answer” (5.49.9, 8.101.1), in both cases it has been emended by modern scholars to ὑποκρίνομαι. On the etymological development of ὑποκρίνομαι meaning “answer, respond,” and its restriction to Ionic, see Lesky 1956, Koller 1957; Thucydides’ usage confirms that ὑποκρίνομαι is the Ionic dialect form, while ἀποκρίνομαι is the favored form in Attic. Thus, ὑποκρίνομαι only occurs once in the text of Thucydides in a quotation from the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (3.104.5), while ἀποκρίνομαι occurs thirty-three times. In addition, ἀμείβομαι meaning “answer” never occurs in Thucydides or Plato, strongly suggesting that it is poetic and/or Ionic.
[ back ] 16. For extensive discussion of these three passages, see Kurke 2011:128–130, 406–410, 419–420.
[ back ] 17. We should note that ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη never signifies interruption in Herodotus, since the narrator has other explicit formulations for that. Cf. 5.50.3 and 9.91; in both instances, Herodotus uses an identical formula for one speaker interrupting another who is still in mid-speech. Thus, e.g., at 5.50.3, once Aristagoras has made the mistake of revealing to Cleomenes that Susa is three months’ march from the sea, the appalled Spartan king cuts off any further discussion: ὁ δὲ ὑπαρπάσας τὸν ἐπίλοιπον λόγον τὸν ὁ Ἀρισταγόρης ὅρμητο λέγειν …, εἶπε κτλ. (“Cleomenes cut off the rest of the account that Aristagoras was all set to give him … and said …”). In just the same way, in 9.91, once Leotychides learns the name of the Samian Hegesistratus (which he regards as a klēdōn), he decides immediately to fight and cuts off any further discussion: ὁ δὲ ὑπαρπάσας τὸν ἐπίλοιπον λόγον, εἴ τινα ὅρμητο λέγειν ὁ Ἡγησίστρατος, εἶπε κτλ. (“But [Leotychides] cut off the rest of the account, if Hegesistratus was set to say anything [more], and said …”).
[ back ] 18. On this shift from indirect to direct discourse as characteristic of the delivery of the “punchline” (epilogos) in Aesopic fable, see Karadagli 1981:128.
[ back ] 19. Admittedly at 6.139, the Pelasgians turn out to be wrong in the long run (because of Miltiades’ clever ruse), but at the time they utter the words introduced by εἶπαν ὑπολαβόντες, they are completely confident that their adunaton will shut down any further discussion.
[ back ] 20. Cf. LSJ s.v. ὑπολαμβάνω I.5, where they note the meaning, “take up and turn it to their own use” for Lucian Calumniae 17 (though not in a speech context).
[ back ] 21. For this purpose, I am including all the fables where some form of ὑπολαβών or ὑποτυχών occurs with a verb of speaking. Aggregating all the fables where one or the other formula occurs (based on Chambry 1925–1926 and Perry 1952), I count forty-six total instances. For a full list of fable occurrences, see nn25 and 26 below, and cf. Kurke 2011:129.
[ back ] 22. For this as a common fable type, see Perry 1959:19, 22, 29–30, 1965:xxii–xxiii.
[ back ] 23. Note also the narrative shift at this point from imperfect to aorist, corresponding precisely to the pattern in Herodotus 1.11, 6.139, and 9.94. Chambry’s editio maior (1925–1926) records all the mss variants for αἱ δὲ ὑποτυχοῦσαι … ἔφασαν within Recension I: ἀποτυχοῦσαι Mb, ἀποκριθεῖσαι Pg Ca; αἱ δέ· καλῶς, ἔφασκον, εἰ σὺ ἐντεῦθεν ἀπαλλάγεις Ce, ἕνα δὲ ἀποτυχοῦσα· καλῶς, ἔφασκεν Cf.
[ back ] 24. ὑποτυγχάνω is thus perhaps also colloquial or sub-literary: for occurrences, see Hippocrates Epistolae 17; Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 6.87, 7.16; Josephus Jewish Antiquities 6.11.9; Plutarch Moralia 113b. It is striking that the two occurrences in Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ Roman Antiquities show up in the vicinity of Menenius’ telling of the fable of the belly and the limbs to the Roman plebs, while Plutarch’s use of τινες ὑποτυχόντες for an anonymous, hypothetical hectoring question precisely corresponds to the use of ὑπολαμβάνω at Plato Apology 20c4, Meno 74c6, Gorgias 450e6–7, Laws 875d8; Xenophon Hellenica 6.1.7; [Xenophon] Constitution of the Athenians 3.12 (on which, see discussion below, pp. 26–27, 35–37).
[ back ] 25. All together, based on Chambry’s editio maior (1925–1926), I count thirty-six occurrences of this usage of ὑποτυγχάνω: fable nos. 8, 14, 31, 35, 37, 40, 41, 51, 56, 95, 111, 117, 135, 159, 171, 178, 185, 190, 203, 225, 226, 232, 256, 258, 264, 283, 297, 299, 311, 330, 340, 341, 342, 343, 348, 349 Chambry 1925–1926. Note that, unfortunately, fable numbers in Chambry 1925–1926 do not always correspond to those for the same fables in the latest edition of Chambry (Chambry3 [1967]), because Chambry occasionally excised fables from the editio maior and thereby altered the numbering of many of the fables in sequence. These fable numbers in Chambry 1925–1926 correspond to the following fable numbers in Perry 1952: 4, 7, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 29, 33, 62, 64, 89, 93, 114, 122, 125, 134, 137, 145, 154, 156, 160, 175, 200, 205, 215, 222, 223, 227, 229, 236, 237, 238, 239, 242, 243. But note that, because Perry’s apparatus criticus is much less full than that of Chambry 1925–1926, significant ms variants—where (for example) ὑπολαβών/-οῦσα replaces ὑποτυχών/-οῦσα in a particular fable—are not always identifiable from Perry’s edition.
[ back ] 26. For the substitution of ὑπολαβών/-οῦσα for ὑποτυχών/-οῦσα, see Karadagli 1981:128: “Manchmal findet sich auch das Partizip ὑπολαβών, -οῦσα mit derselben Bedeutung wie ὑποτυχών, -οῦσα: so in den Fabeln 288, 185, 214, 283, 216, und 235 [Hausrath].” Although Karadagli lists only six such occurrences, I count twenty-three out of thirty-six instances of ὑποτυχών + verb of speaking where ὑπολαβών shows up as a ms variant, based on Chambry 1925–1926: 8, 35, 40, 41, 51, 56, 95, 117, 135, 178, 185, 225, 232, 258, 264, 297, 299, 311, 330, 342, 343, 348, 349. In addition, eight more instances of ὑπολαβών without ὑποτυχών as a ms variant occur in fable nos. 68, 169, 176, 179, 181, 312, 327, 334 Chambry 1925–1926 (where, in most cases, these ms variants with forms of ὑπολαβών do not show up at all in Perry’s more minimal app. crit.), and there are an additional two occurrences in the fables of Syntipas (included in Perry’s edition, but not in Chambry’s; Syntipas fable nos. 50 and 61 Perry, pp. 546, 550). So, all together, 23 + 10 occurrences of ὑπολαβὼν εἶπε/ἔφη = 33; partially overlapping with 36 occurrences of ὑποτυχὼν εἶπε/ἔφη, for total occurrences of one or the other speech formula in forty-six separate fables.
[ back ] 27. For both these points, cf. Karadagli 1981:128. Here apparently also with interruption; note the present participle λέγοντος.
[ back ] 28. Again, the Greek text follows Perry; there are slight divergences from Chambry’s text.
[ back ] 29. Perry 1962:318–319n32; cf. Adrados 1999:51, 194, 405, 470, correlating this fable with the tale of Glaucus the Lacedemonian told by the Spartan king Leotychides to the Athenians at Herodotus 6.86.
[ back ] 30. At the time of his editio maior, Chambry knew of ninety-four mss (1925–1926:1); Hausrath (1927:1541, 1543) and Marc (1910:398) added six to eight more; Perry 1936:71–72 added another fourteen mss, plus the very important ms G (Morgan 397). G is a late tenth- or early eleventh-century ms only identified by Perry and Elinor Husselman in the late 1920s, that provides by far the oldest and fullest fable collection of any ms; see Perry 1936:71–155, 1952:301–302.
[ back ] 31. Chambry 1925–1926:5–24, following Fedde 1877; Hausrath 1894, 1909, 1927; Marc 1910:409–411; Perry 1936:71–81, 1952:xii, 298–311.
[ back ] 32. Perry 1936:72–73.
[ back ] 33. For narrative patterns, see Nøjgaard 1964:133–358, Karadagli 1981:106–108, 124–27, Holzberg 2002:86–88; for persistent dictional formulae (some of which go all the way back to fables narrated in classical authors), see Perry 1959:29–30, 1962:345–346; Fraenkel 1964; Karadagli 1981:97–139; Holzberg 2002:88–89.
[ back ] 34. For a combined total of forty-one out of a total forty-six occurrences.
[ back ] 35. See Perry 1936:71–217, with summary on p. 75; Perry 1952:298–311 (with stemma on p. 308).
[ back ] 36. For the dating of recension I based on diction, style, and absence of Christianizing elements, see Chambry 1925–1926:27–28, 1967:xlii–xlvii; Perry 1936:75, 156–157, 1952:300, 1962:288–289 with n3.
[ back ] 37. For Demetrius of Phalerum’s fable collection (the earliest known prose compilation of Aesop’s fables), see Diogenes Laertius 5.80; for the kernel of the Augustana going back to Demetrius’ collection, see Chambry 1925–1926:28, 1967:xlvii; Perry 1959:34–36, 1962.
[ back ] 38. For skepticism on the part of more recent fable scholars, see (e.g.) Gibbs 2002:xx–xxi, Holzberg 2002:86–89.
[ back ] 39. Thus Perry 1940, 1959:29, 33–34, 1962; contra: Nøjgaard 1964:131–138, Holzberg 2002:86–89.
[ back ] 40. Holzberg 2002:87–88: “The narrative is, then, for the most part simple and unvarying, with a tendency toward the formulaic. Was this premeditated? It does seem very likely that the author deliberately kept the style plain in order to give the texts an air of authenticity. Contemporary readers were supposed to feel that the book before them was ‘the real Aesop,’ the work of a man who had written down his λόγοι centuries before, in an age when Greek prose had still been in its baby shoes and its diction not yet swollen with the rhetoric they knew from their own day.”
[ back ] 41. Holzberg’s argument reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of structuralism—repeated formal patterns (e.g. balanced, three-step narrative; specific types of fables and punchlines) do not require either a single author or even conscious analysis/understanding of the form by multiple composers to be reproduced; this is the whole point of genre and structural patterns.
[ back ] 42. Perry 1936:170–172 (quotes from pp. 171–172), refuting the theory of Marc (1910), that the use of logos in the epimythia of the Augustana collection is a feature drawn specifically from the rhetorical schools. For fable terminology and the relative chronology of the use of the terms logos and muthos, see also van Dijk 1997:79–111, Adrados 1999:3–17.
[ back ] 43. Notably, critics and commentators have connected some or all of these passages with each other as exceptional and experimental moments of dialogue in the History (although they have not noticed the repeated occurrence of forms of ὑπολαμβάνω): thus Hudson-Williams 1950:166 and Connor 1984:148 link 2.72 and 5.85 as rare instances of “dialogue,” while Connor terms 3.113 “conversation.” Cf. Hornblower 1991:533, 2008:219 (on the similarity of 3.113 and 5.85 as moments of “rapid dialogue”) and Hornblower 2008:129 (on links between 5.49 and the Melian Dialogue).
[ back ] 44. The use of deictic iota (so frequent in Old Comedy) is extremely rare in Thucydides; David Jacobson informs me that ταυτί at 3.113.4 is the only demonstrative with deictic iota in all of Thucydides’ History, while νυνί occurs twice in the text (4.92.2, 5.47.12).
[ back ] 45. Cf. Lateiner 1977b:48–49 on the colloquial and “informal” features of this exchange; in contrast, Hornblower 1991:533 is too quick to assimilate this dialogue to the stichomythia of tragedy. But here, we need to make a distinction between tragic content and low or colloquial style; for parallels for the colloquial suppression of verbs of speaking in dialogue contexts, cf. (e.g.) Machon, Chreiai lines 151–152, 240–242 Gow; Life of Aesop (e.g. Vita G, chs. 2, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, etc.); Philogelos nos. 3, 5b, 22a, b, 74, 96bis, 185b, 238, 257 Dawe. Such omission of the introductory verb of speaking never occurs in Homer or Herodotus.
[ back ] 46. On Thucydidean enargeia and its connection to the effective representation of pathos, see Lateiner 1977b; Connor 1982, 1984.
[ back ] 47. Cf. Gomme, Andrewes, Dover 1970.4:66 (ad 5.49.5): “this sophistic arguing between two grave Peloponnesian states is very like what we are told to expect in Athens …”
[ back ] 48. On the conative use of the imperfect, see Goodwin 1965:36; Smyth 1956:1895.
[ back ] 49. For the translation “interrupt,” see Warner 1954:168, Crawley in Strassler 1996:133. In contrast, Marchant 1966:216 notes correctly: “‘in answer’; as often in Plato.” Perhaps translators have been misled by Thucydides’ use of τοσαῦτα in the expression τοσαῦτα εἰπόντων, where one might construe it to mean, “when the Plataeans had said only so much, [but not all they wanted to say,] Archidamus broke in …” This would, however, be a misinterpretation, since, although Thucydides uses τοιαῦτα more commonly in such speech-conclusion formulae, he also frequently uses τοσαῦτα with forms of εἰπεῖν or other aorist verbs of speaking, with no suggestion of interruption by a following speaker. For such formulae with τοσαῦτα, cf. 2.72.2, 3.31, 3.52.3, 4.11, 4.21, 4.88, 4.98, 5.10, 5.113, 6.24, 6.35, 6.41.5, 6.93, 7.49, 7.65.
[ back ] 50. Contrast Xenophon Cyropaedeia 5.5.35, καὶ ὁ Κῦρος ἔτι λέγοντος αὐτοῦ ὑπολαβὼν εἶπε.
[ back ] 51. Translation follows Hornblower 2008 ad loc. (pp. 230–231).
[ back ] 52. Hornblower 2008:230.
[ back ] 53. Hudson Williams 1950; cf. Finley 1948, Macleod 1974, Connor 1984:148–157, Hornblower 2008:218–220, 230–231.
[ back ] 54. Thus, as it is understood by Radt 1976:33–34 and Hornblower 2008:231, the participle is parallel to καθ᾿ ἕκαστον at the beginning of the sentence. Again, in contrast to Hudson Williams 1950:164 and Warner 1954:401, there is no reason whatever to translate the participle here as “interrupt us and say …”
[ back ] 55. For the generic range of sources, cf. Hornblower 2008:219–220, citing as influences on the dialogue form “epic, comedy, tragedy,” as well as the fable of the hawk and the nightingale in Hesiod’s Works and Days. For the practice in low genres of entirely omitting verbs of speaking, see n45 above.
[ back ] 56. Macleod 1974:390.
[ back ] 57. For discussion of the fable context here, see Kurke 2011:273–274.
[ back ] 58. In a sense, this usage depends on and assumes the perfect equivalence and balance of question and response in dialogue. For the same term used for both sides of a reciprocal relation, see Benveniste 1973:63–70, who argues that the root dā- signifies both “give” and “take” in IE. Cf. also Martin 1984:38–45 on the reciprocal semantics of Greek αἰδώς.
[ back ] 59. Cf. the very similar use of ὑπολάβοι δέ τις ἂν κτλ. for a hypothetical, heckling response in [Xenophon] Constitution of the Athenians 3.12 and of τινες ὑποτυχόντες in Plutarch Moralia 113b (demonstrating, by the way, the exact semantic equivalence of classical ὑπολαμβάνω and post-classical ὑποτυγχάνω in identical formulae). Finally, very similar to this use of ὑπολαμβάνω as a main verb in a strongly colloquial context of a hypothetical, hectoring questioner is Demosthenes’ usage; on three occasions, the speaker in a court case urges the entire jury to respond decisively and critically to an imagined claim or argument of the speaker’s opponent with a form of the verb ὑπολαμβάνω (ἂ δὴ πρὸς τούτους ὑπολαμβάνοιτ᾿ ἂν εἰκότως, 20.146; ταῦθ᾿ ὑπολαμβάνετε, 22.10; ἐγὼ δὲ πρὸς ταῦτ᾿ οἶμαι δεῖν ὑμᾶς ἐκεῖνο ὑπολαμβάνειν, 23.93). It is intriguing that in all three of these passages, Demosthenes uses the present tense of the imperative or the subjunctive—perhaps this is meant to suggest “keep responding decisively”? Finally, in one last occurrence (19.46), Demosthenes uses the phrase ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη in the course of narrating a lively, sniping exchange of different speakers before the Assembly. Here, Demosthenes uses the phrase in his quotation of Aeschines’ attempt to turn Demosthenes’ own words against him and have the last word (although, of course, in Demosthenes’ narration, he himself has a ready comeback and so prevents Aeschines from getting the last word).
[ back ] 60. A fascinating exception that proves the rule is Herodotus’ account of the debate of the Greek naval commanders before the battle of Salamis at 8.59–63, which contains several examples of speaking out of turn or interruption. First, we are told, “And when they had been collected together then, before Eurybiades could put forth the reason why he had led the commanders together, Themistocles was all over it in words (πολλὸς ἦν ὁ Θεμιστοκλέης ἐν τοῖς λόγοις), seeing that he was very much in need. And while he was speaking (λέγοντος δὲ αὐτοῦ) the Corinthian commander Adeimantus the son of Ocytus said, ‘O Themistocles, in the contests, those who start before the signal are whipped.’ But he, justifying himself, said, ‘But those who are left behind win no crowns’.” Here, clearly, Themistocles has spoken out of turn and is himself interrupted and sternly rebuked by the Corinthian Adeimantus for his failure to respect the proper protocols of discussion. Then once more, at a later point in the debate, Herodotus indicates that Adeimantus again interrupts Themistocles (8.61): “While Themistocles was saying these things, the Corinthian Adeimantus again attacked him, both bidding one who had no fatherland to be silent and not allowing Eurybiades to give a vote to a cityless man …” (ταῦτα λέγοντος Θεμιστοκλέος αὖτις ὁ Κορίνθιος Ἀδείμαντος ἐπεφέρετο κτλ.). Two things to notice here: (1) This kind of interruption is marked by the participants within the debate as highly unusual and unseemly, while the narrator goes out of his way to characterize this sequence as an extremely violent and aggressive exchange of words. Thus note the use of the verb ἐπεφέρετο, “attacked,” for Adeimantus’ second interruption, and the narrator’s summary characterization of this whole sequence at 8.64 as οὕτω μὲν οἱ περὶ Σαλαμῖνα ἔπεσι ἀκροβολισάμενοι, “so it was that those around Salamis skirmished with each other with words ...” (2) The sniping back and forth between Themistocles and Adeimantus would seem to be the ideal context, in terms of semantics, for the use of the formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη/εἶπε. But in fact, the formula does not occur at all—precisely because, I would contend, there is an issue here of tone and level of discourse. Although this is represented as a tense and hostile exchange, Herodotus’ narrative of this occasion is simultaneously cast in very solemn and serious terms.
[ back ] 61. In contrast, the final Xenophontic occurrence in this meaning, Cyropaedeia 2.2.2, uses ὑπολαβὼν εἶπε to signify a new speaker taking the floor, but with no apparent aggression. Here Xenophon introduces a new episode by having Cyrus ask a group of his Persian comrades over dinner, “Do our new comrades, who have not been educated in the same way as we have, appear to you to be in any way inferior on account of this, or different from us either in their socializing or when it’s necessary to contend against enemies in war?” One comrade, Hystaspas, immediately responds (ὑπολαβὼν εἶπε) with a long witty narrative of the boorish behavior of one of his new recruits, griping over a perceived inequity in the distribution of sacrificial meat at a company dinner. Intriguingly, Hystaspas’ whole anecdote (2.2.2–5), but especially its final sequence (2.2.5), closely echoes the plot of fable no. 133 Perry—the fable of the dog with a piece of meat who, crossing a river, catches sight of her own reflection in the water with what she takes to be a bigger piece of meat, drops her piece in order to get the bigger one, and so loses both. I would therefore suggest that the speech introduction ὑπολαβὼν εἶπε here cues us to the low, fabular quality of Hystaspas’ tale, which significantly occurs right after the narrator’s introductory assertion that Cyrus, when he entertained, always encouraged conversations (λόγοι) that were “as entertaining as possible (εὐχαριστότατοι) and inciting to the good” (2.1). These two qualities precisely characterize the genre of fable in ancient fable theory (see, e.g., Agathias Palatine Anthology 16.332 = Perry 1952, Test. 50).
[ back ] 62. Ast 1835–1838, s.v. ὑπολαμβάνω. I would remove Symposium 193b from Ast’s second category (regarding this instead as a verb of speaking), but I would add Laws 6.782d, 7.810c (which he categorizes as verbs of speaking), so my count would be seventy-six. Cf. des Places 1964:524–525, whose listing of passages is not complete, but whose proportions in the different categories are more or less the same.
[ back ] 63. For full discussion of fable features in these two passages, see Kurke 2011:286–287, 311–312.
[ back ] 64. Next after these two dialogues is the Phaedo, with five total occurrences. Although the tone of conversation in the Phaedo is much milder throughout, what it shares with Republic and Euthydemus is the representation of Socrates in conversation with two main interlocutors (in this case, Simmias and Cebes), which often produces discursive “tag-team” effects marked by ὑπολαβών … ἔφη.
[ back ] 65. I would put in this category Euthydemus 283d4, 298e6, Protagoras 318a6, Republic 10.598d. In another four instances, it seems to mean “answer” in a dialogue of two with no aggressive or trumping function: thus Euthydemus 289c9, Phaedo 64c3, 72e3, Republic 5.466d; for this usage, cf. Xenophon Cyropaedeia 6.1.37, Oeconomicus 10.4, Hieron 6.9, 8.1, 8.8. Thus I count eight uses altogether in Plato for response in rapid-fire dialogue between two speakers.
[ back ] 66. Apology 20c, Gorgias 450e, Laws 9.875d, Meno 74c.
[ back ] 67. We should note in particular Socrates’ stress in the Apology on his humble, colloquial style of speaking, not at all suited for lawcourt pleading: cf. Apology 17c1–2: ἀλλ᾿ ἀκούσεσθε εἰκῇ λεγόμενα τοῖς ἐπιτυχοῦσιν ὀνόμασιν. If we are to take this stance seriously, it may point to casual or colloquial speech as the source of this usage of ὑπολαμβάνω for heckling questions.
[ back ] 68. In translating this phrase, I follow LSJ s.v. δυσχεραίνω III and Dodds 1959 ad loc.
[ back ] 69. We will see similar effects achieved, mainly through imagery, in the Euthydemus. In the other two Platonic occurrences in this meaning, at Meno 74c6, Socrates is speaking to a slave boy, also to critique an inadequate definition, and at Laws 9.875d8, the Athenian speaks to his interlocutors, Cleinias and Megillus.
[ back ] 70. In category (3a), I would put six occurrences: Republic 1.331d4, Symposium 176d5, 194d1, Euthydemus 287b2, 294b11, 298b1; in category (3b), nine occurrences: Phaedo 60c8, 69e6–7, 73a3, Protagoras 336b7, Republic 1.340a3, 2.372c2, 4.419a1, 8.544b1, Euthydemus 297b2. (I owe thanks to John Ferrari for discussion of the argumentative nuances of several of these passages.)
[ back ] 71. Cf. Adams’ subtle characterization of this exchange (Adams 1963:12, ad 331d27): “Polemarchus is throughout the introduction represented as a vivacious person: e.g. … in the lively emphasis with which he breaks in just above … It is this φιλολογία on the part of his son which draws a smile from Cephalus: overmuch προθυμία always struck the Greeks as laughable …”
[ back ] 72. A crucial intermediary here may be the dialogues of Aristotle; although all of them are lost, the speech formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη intriguingly shows up in a long excerpt from Aristotle’s dialogue Eudemus or On the Soul quoted by Plutarch (Letter of Consolation to Apollonius 115c = Aristotle On the Soul fr. 65 Gigon). Here it occurs for the ultimate trumping response between two interlocutors—Silenus bitterly informing king Midas that “the best thing is never to have been born.” The formula occurs once more in the extant works of Aristotle, at Rhetoric 2.23.3, 1397b5, again for a snappy, conclusive rejoinder between two interlocutors.
[ back ] 73. In this category I put occurrences in the Lives of Alexander 30.2; Cato the Younger 6.2; Coriolanus 11.1; Dion 5.4; Lycurgus 15.10; Lysander 4.3; Numa 15.5; Sertorius 5.2–3; Sulla 22.3, 24.2, 31.2; Flamininus 17.2 and Sayings of the Spartans (Apophthegmata Laconica) 228c, 233b.
[ back ] 74. In this category, I put the twenty-two occurrences in Table Talk (Quaestiones Convivales; 627d, 634c, 640c, 646b, 654b, 667a, 670e, 671c, 684c, 685d, 704b, 714a, 717e, 718c, 722c, 724d, 726c, 730d, 740a, 742d, 744f, 745c); eight occurrences in the Banquet of the Seven Sages (152e, 153e, 157c, 157d, 158f, 160e, 162c, 164d); six occurrences in On the Obsolescence of Oracles (411c, 412e, 415d, 420a, 422e, 431b); five occurrences in On the Delphic Oracle (395c, 396b, 396e, 397d, 403a); five occurrences in On the Divine Sign of Socrates (580b, 581a, 582e, 584b, 587b); four occurrences in On the Face in the Orb of the Moon (920f, 929e, 935c, 940f); four occurrences in Why it is not Possible to Live Sweetly According to Epicurus (1086f, 1088d, 1100e, 1103f); two occurrences in On the Delays of Divine Vengeance (548b, 560a); one occurrence in The Dialogue on Love (Amatorius 763a); and one occurrence in Plutarch fr. 177 Sandbach (a long quotation by Themistius of Plutarch’s Platonic-style dialogue On the Soul). I leave out of account here one last occurrence in the Letter of Consolation to Apollonius (115c), where ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη occurs within a quotation of Aristotle’s dialogue Eudemus or On the Soul (= Aristotle On the Soul fr. 65 Gigon); see n72 above.
To demonstrate the influence of Plato’s dialectical development of this speech formula on Plutarch’s usage (rather than surveying all of these occurrences in detail), I will offer a sample analysis from just one dialogue: in his brief Banquet of the Seven Sages, Plutarch uses this quotative formula eight times—always for a new speaker claiming the discursive floor, either to trump an earlier speaker and shut down discussion (152e, 164d); or to offer a challenge/objection (153e, 157c, 157d, 158f, 160e); or to turn or divert the course of discussion (162c).
[ back ] 75. See Hirzel 1895.2:132–237 for extended discussion of Platonic influences on Plutarch’s various dialogues.
[ back ] 76. Life of Apollonius 1.12.1, 1.19.3, 1.21.2, 1.31.2, 1.34.2, 1.36.1, 2.14.4, 2.33.1, 2.39.1, 2.39.3, 2.40.2, 3.16.3, 3.23.1, 3.28.2, 3.30.2, 3.40, 3.45.2, 4.36.2, 5.7.4, 6.3.4, 6.9.2, 6.12.2, 6.17, 6.20.7, 7.15.2.
[ back ] 77. It is also worth noting that the speech formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη is not a general feature of all Atticizing prose of the Second Sophistic; thus, the formula never occurs in Lucian (although Lucian writes plenty of dialogues). Surveying the evidence of imperial Greek, one might be tempted to invert my developmental account and suggest that fable takes over the speech formula ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη from writers like Plutarch and Philostratus (by a kind of “trickle-down” effect, rather than the “bubbling up” effect I am positing). There are two counter-arguments to this: (1) The usage that pervades all the fable occurrences—a trumping response between two—actually represents just a minority of all the occurrences in Plutarch and Philostratus, but accounts for all of the (rare) fifth-century uses of the formula in literary prose (Herodotus, Thucydides). (2) A genealogy from Greek imperial prose to fable would not account for the equivalence and co-occurrence of ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη and ὑποτυχὼν ἔφη in the fable formulae. I am tempted to suggest that, over time, ὑποτυχὼν ἔφη replaces ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη as a popular, subliterary formula once ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη is transformed into a classier literary phrase in the wake of Plato and Xenophon. Both are then preserved in the fable collections as two strata or layers of popular discourse—much like the preservation of both μῦθος and λόγος as technical terms for fable in the Augustana collection (discussed on p. 19 above). But this is just speculation.
[ back ] 78. See Eustathius, quoted in n7 above, and cf. Hesychius, s.v. ὑποβλήδην· ὑποβάλλων τὸν λόγον πρὶν σιωπῆσαι τὸν λέγοντα. ἄλλοι ὑπολαμβάνων (4.1.211, line 75 Schmidt). Note however that these two conflations go in somewhat different directions: Eustathius’ statement reveals that he thinks ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη means “interrupt,” while Hesychius’ ἄλλοι ὑπολαμβάνων seems to mean that some ancients thought that ὑποβλήδην meant simply “answering, in response” (at least to judge from Hesychius’ third definition in his gloss on ὑπολαβών· ὑπονοήσας, νομίσας. ἀποκριθείς [4.1.214, line 78 Schmidt]).
[ back ] 79. The Homer Scholia to Iliad 1.292, 19.80, Scholia to Argonautica 1.699, 3.400–401, Hesychius, s.v. ὑποβλήδην, Eustathius Commentarii ad Homeri Iliadem vol. 1, pp. 106, 165 van der Valk, the Suda 4.667, line 454 Adler all offer the meaning “interrupt” for ὑποβλήδην/ὑποβάλλειν. Among moderns, the meaning “interrupt” is accepted by (e.g.) Chantraine Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque s.v. βάλλω, derived forms (g); Kirk 1985:82; Edwards 1991:244; Minchin 2007:229–233. Nagy 2002:19–22 rejects the meaning “interrupt,” arguing instead that the two words retroject rhapsodic competitive turn-taking and one-upsmanship into the mythological world of the Iliad (based on Diogenes Laertius’ use of the phrase ἐξ ὑποβολῆς to characterize legislation attributed to Solon, requiring rhapsodes at the Panathenaia to “take it up in order,” thus in the same meaning as ἐξ ὑπολήψεως in [Plato] Hipparchus 228d).
[ back ] 80. Thus Beck 2005:219–220, Minchin 2007:229–232.
[ back ] 81. Thus Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica 1.699, 3.400, 3.1119; Quintus of Smyrna 2.147, Coluthus 146. Hermann 1834 already argued that none of the Apollonius passages involves interruption; Belloni 1979:66–68 adds further arguments that ὑποβλήδην cannot mean “interrupt” at 1.699 and 3.400 (since in both cases, Apollonius specifically notes a pause before the second speaker starts), but considers 3.1119 deliberately ambiguous.
[ back ] 82. Note esp. Iliad 1.296, where Achilles picks up and transforms the language and formulae of 1.289 in Agamemnon’s speech.
[ back ] 83. The fox’s decisive response to the stag continues for another eighteen lines. Oddly, this Babrius passage is not listed in LSJ under ὑποβλήδην and, to my knowledge, has never figured in modern discussions of the meaning of the word.
[ back ] 84. Cf. the exemplary caution of Hunter 1989:143 (ad Argonautica 3.400): “The meaning is quite uncertain: an ancient interpretation as ‘interrupting’ (Σbt Il. 1.292 etc.) might just suit here and 1119, but not 1.699. Poets may have used the word simply for ‘in answer’ …”
[ back ] 85. In the case of the passage from Xenophon Anabasis, the present participle ὑπομαλακιζομένους perhaps signifies multiple different respondents in successive speeches taking a more conciliating line. If this is the force of the present tense, it would correspond exactly to the anomalous present participle in Thucydides’ expression at the beginning the Melian Dialogue, ὑπολαμβάνοντες κρίνετε (5.85); cf. discussion on p. 25 above.
[ back ] 86. Thus correctly Waterfield’s (2005) translation, “Others, it was said, took a softer line and suggested …”
[ back ] 87. Powell 1938, s.v. ὑποθωπεύω; LSJ simply give up the attempt to find a shade of meaning in the preverb. Donald Mastronarde (per litteras) objects that the two participles here are parallel, and that it is therefore not appropriate to take ὑποθωπεύσας with λέγει. He notes, “the prep. in this verb I would take to fall under the ‘stealthily/in an underhanded fashion’ category, hypercharacterizing the insincerity of θωπεύω.” I would argue in response to Mastronarde’s first objection that both participles are coincidental aorists, and therefore both are to be taken with the main verb λέγει.
[ back ] 88. Another verb form in which the preverb ὑπο- may already bear this meaning in Homer is ὑποφθάνω (mid.) at Odyssey 15.171. Here, Peisistratus has asked Menelaus to declare whether a bird omen has been sent for him and Telemachus or for Menelaus; while the latter ponders how he should “interpret the omen” (ὑποκρίναιτο), “Helen anticipated him in answering and spoke a muthos” (τὸν δ᾿ Ἑλένη τανύπεπλος ὑποφθαμένη φάτο μῦθον). This is a tricky case, because we might take the ὑπο- prefix here as simply hypercharacterizing the action of φθάνω, but note Plutarch’s use of the bare participle ὑποφθάσας without a verb of speaking to signify that a new speaker “responded before [the person directly addressed] could do so” (Plutarch Banquet 155f).
[ back ] 89. Schwyzer-Debrunner 1950.2:525, Lesky 1956:472, Chantraine Dictionnaie étymologique de la langue grecque s.v. ὑποκρίνομαι.
[ back ] 90. See Thomson 1946:171–172, Schwyzer-Debrunner 1950.2:525, Lesky 1956:473–474, Koller 1957:101–102.
[ back ] 91. It is worth noting in this context that many scholars assume that traditions about Aesop and Aesopic fables developed first in Ionia, and spread from there to mainland Greece (thus, e.g., Aly 1921:159–160, Nøjgaard 1964:449–458, West 1984:117–119, 123–124, 128, Adrados 1999:271–274). Given that model of diffusion, we might be tempted to suggest that fable and other popular Ionic storytelling might have contributed to the spread of the construction preverb ὑπο- + aorist participle + verb of speaking, in addition to (or perhaps instead of?) Homer and Herodotus as loci of diffusion.
For this meaning of ὑπο-, cf. the verbs ὑπακούω and ὑπαγορεύω. The former is glossed by LSJ (s.v. I.2.b) as “in a dialogue, answer when questioned” (already in Plato); the latter, though it means primarily “suggest” or “imply,” apparently later develops the meaning “reply” (LSJ s.v. ὑπαγορεύω IV, citing Harpocration). All these forms suggest that, at least from the time of Plato on, the ὑπο- prefix was understood by Greeks to mean “in response.”
[ back ] 92. Note that Homeric ὑποβάλλω shares the same semantic structure, since we can construe the second element as meaning “throw” or “strike” (as with a weapon).
[ back ] 93. Collins 2004:53 (my italics).
[ back ] 94. Collins 2004:52 with n10, following Nagy 2002:9–35.
[ back ] 95. Note that this ratio conforms (more or less) to what we’ve observed in other Platonic contexts, since here, a little over half of all occurrences represent the intervention or claiming of the floor of a new speaker.
[ back ] 96. The one exception is Euthydemus 289c9, where ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη marks the response of the boy Clinias to Socrates’ questioning in a dialogue of two, with no apparent aggression. And yet, this is a very significant moment in the dialogue, where for the first time, Clinias resists the lure of one of Socrates’ leading questions, and decisively rejects the notion that the knowledge that properly knows how to make use of all things is generalship. Clinias’ assertion of independence and disagreement here leads to a decisive turn in the argument.
[ back ] 97. On the precise workings of their system, I have found Erler 1986 and Mann 2006:107–113 particularly helpful. Erler 1986 emphasizes the similarity of this question-and-answer format to traditional Greek verbal competitions; Mann 2006 lays out the agreed-upon ground rules for such verbal sparring, which he regards as a fifth-century invention that pre-existed Plato’s later (tendentious) differentiation of “dialectic” from “eristic.”
[ back ] 98. In its fourth and last occurrence to mark a new speaker claiming the discursive floor (at 294b11), ὑπολαβών … ἔφη introduces Ctesippus’ challenging and aggressive intervention, demanding practical proof from Dionysodorus of his absurd claim that he and his brother “know everything.”
[ back ] 99. For this principle of the independence of each “round” of question-and-answer, see Mann 2006:109.
[ back ] 100. As already noted by Gifford 1905:50 (ad Euthydemus 297a5); cf. Hawtrey 1981:14, Hüffmeier 2000:33.
[ back ] 101. This is in fact confirmed by the other uses of ὑφαρπάζω in speech situations; cf. Herodotus 5.50.3, 9.91 (cited in n17 above).
[ back ] 102. For virtuoso soloists/tumblers performing separately from a chorus, cf. Iliad 18.604–606, Homeric Hymn to Apollo 200–203, and discussion in Miller 1986:24–25, Lonsdale 1993:53. For διπλῆ as a dance or dance-step, see Hesychius s.v. διπλῆ· ὀρχήσεως εἶδος (1.463, line 48 Latte).
[ back ] 103. See Benkendorff 1966:39n1, who notes how extremely rare imagery drawn from ballplaying is in Greek literature (but does not connect this Euthydemus passage with Odyssey 8).
[ back ] 104. Gifford 1905:15; cf. Benkendorff 1966:39. Note that the image of the ball here in itself tends to refute the claim of Collins 2004:52–53, that the participle ἐκδεξάμενος references rhapsodic turn-taking in performance.
[ back ] 105. Note also πάλιν, which makes clear that Euthydemus has already hit the boy with the ball/logos—and now Dionysodorus prepares to do it again.
[ back ] 106. On Corybantic initiation and dancing, see Linforth 1945, 1946; Riedweg 1987; Edmonds 2006.
[ back ] 107. Note the final transformation of dance imagery in the dialogue at 294d7–e5 (Socrates’ last—and most absurd—challenge to the brothers’ claim to know everything): “So that I also, O Crito, was compelled by my disbelief in the end to ask if Dionysodorus also knew how to dance. He said, ‘Absolutely.’ ‘Surely indeed,’ I said, ‘you have not come to such a point of wisdom as to tumble into [over?] knives and to be whirled around on a [potter’s] wheel, at your age?’ ‘[There is] nothing,’ he said, ‘I cannot do.’” That this is a class/status slur against the sophistic brothers is confirmed by the identity of the tricks Socrates mentions here with those of the slave dancing girl of Xenophon Symposium 7.3—where, notice, Xenophon’s Socrates specifically objects to these kinds of dangerous dancing tricks as “unseemly for the symposium.” Cf. also Laws 2.665de, which implies a common assumption that old men will be ashamed to make a spectacle of themselves singing and dancing in public; thus note Socrates’ additional jab τηλικοῦτος ὤν (294e3). On the insults implied in Socrates’ questions about complex dance maneuvers, cf. Hawtrey 1981:147.
[ back ] 108. On the prominence of wrestling imagery throughout the Euthydemus, see Benkendorff 1966:32–46, Hawtrey 1981:32, Herrmann 1995, Corcoran 2003. Herrmann intriguingly connects this imagery with the alternate title Sextus Empiricus provides for Protagoras’ treatise “On Truth”—καταβάλλοντες λόγοι. Herrmann suggests that we should regard Euthydemus and Dionysodorus as followers of Protagoras, and that the analogy of sophistic question-and-answer and wrestling throws might derive from Protagoras himself. Corcoran 2003 argues that Plato (himself a keen wrestler, hence his nickname) subscribes throughout his dialogues to a moral hierarchy of forms of wrestling/boxing, with pancration as the basest form (since all holds are allowed), then ground wrestling, then “upright wrestling.” As Hawtrey, Herrmann, and Corcoran also note, the whole dialogue takes place in the exercise grounds of the Lyceum, where presumably boxing, wrestling, and ballplaying all normally occurred.
[ back ] 109. Note that both mythological images (of flaying and of chopping up and boiling) return at 301c6–d8, where Dionysodorus gleefully imagines “skinning, chopping up, roasting, and boiling” a cook. I would contend that this shift in the register of imagery for the two brothers from the supernatural figures Medea and Apollo flaying Marsyas to those who flay and chop up a cook is not accidental, since it parallels and supports the main imagistic development of the dialogue as a whole. Thus, in Socrates’ own words, the brothers start out like “gods” (ὥσπερ θεώ, 273e7), but end up like consummate “craftsmen” of logoi (ὥσπερ οἱ δημιουργοί, 301c3), after Socrates has made a point in both his embedded dialogues with Clinias of articulating the principle that craftsmen themselves don’t understand the proper use of their products. We might say the same of the rapid-fire question-and-answer method the brothers have honed to such a sharp edge; by implication, it requires a non-professional (ἰδιώτης, as Socrates twice describes himself and his logoi [282d6, 295e2–3]), a true philosopher(-king?), to understand the proper use to which their products should be put.
[ back ] 110. Here again, the register and tone of this imagery are colored by the brothers’ own blithe affirmation at 294b4–7 that, because they know everything, they also know “the art of shoemaking,” including “stitching with sinews” (νευρορραφεῖν) and “stitching on soles” (καττύειν). Thus, even while the violence of the imagery persists, the brothers are demeaned by the association of their verbal abilities with lowly banausic trades.
[ back ] 111. Thus Mann 2006, esp. pp. 122–23.
[ back ] 112. Thus already Spengel 1855:763–767; cf. Gifford 1905:17–20, Hawtrey 1981:30, Cooper 1997:708 (Introduction to Euthydemus), etc.
[ back ] 113. Gifford 1905:72.